Gazans flock to the beach amid, hostage families fume

Images of Gazans bathing in the sea enrage families of Hamas hostages, as their loved ones continue to languish in captivity; 'This is a joke, and it's at our expense,' says hostage's cousin

As Gaza was swept by an early-season heat wave, Gazans flocked to the beaches of the coastal enclave to cool off. The sight of life in Gaza seemingly going back to normal amid war was especially stinging for some of the families of the Israeli hostages who have been held in captivity for 195 days.
Oriya, cousin of Yarden Bibas who was abducted to Gaza on October 7, spoke on Thursday morning about newly released footage showing him being transported to Gaza on a motorcycle, surrounded and assaulted by terrorists.
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חוף הים בדיר אל בלח
חוף הים בדיר אל בלח
Palestinians escaping the heat by entering the sea
(Photo: AFP)
"It's hard to watch this, and it's also hard to know that since then he is still there, in a state of complete helplessness," Oriya told Ynet. She expressed her disbelief at footage showing crowds at the beaches of central Gaza's Deir al-Balah. "I felt like the world had gone mad. This is a joke, and it's at our expense."
Yarden, along with his wife Shiri and their young children Kfir, 1, and Ariel, 4, were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz. The newly released footage shows Yarden being forcibly moved by a terrorist on a motorcycle, armed with a pistol. Additional terrorists are seen striking him, and later, his head appears bloodied. President Isaac Herzog shared the video, declaring, "The world must not remain silent in the face of such crimes. Bring them back now."
"On October 10, we received videos of the kidnapping. We sat and analyzed every frame," Oriya recounted. "We saw then that he was being beaten, but seeing the video now in this way is hard. It's just sitting and holding your head, not knowing whether to cry or scream or be angry at the whole world, which is currently the situation I at least find myself in.
"I feel that not enough is being done, nothing is being done right now. We are at a standstill, there is apathy in the public, unfortunately, and also in the Cabinet. Unfortunately, I can't avoid reading talkbacks and seeing which way the wind blows, that it's no longer what it used to be. That it's no longer 'with all our might to release them.' We've gotten used to it a bit, I'm not talking about us as a family, but about us as a people. It's much more than a nightmare, it's already a living reality like no other."
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תיעוד קשה: רגע חטיפתו של ירדן ביבס לעזה
תיעוד קשה: רגע חטיפתו של ירדן ביבס לעזה
Yarden Bibas being kidnapped by Hamas
Addressing claims that Hamas is not interested in negotiating, Oriya responded, "The question is what are we doing to make them want a deal? It's all processes. I'm not a politician or a diplomat, what I do know is that it's been over half a year that our family has been waiting for someone to save it. How can there be a video of a mother and two toddlers being kidnapped to Gaza and the world is against us? What are we doing wrong here? After such a video, the world should tremble. The earth should open its mouth and swallow all these terrorists. Something we did here was not right."

"We are normalizing the situation"

Yuval Dancyg, whose father Alex Dancyg was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, said he was not surprised to see Gazans back at the beach of Deir al-Balah "because nothing was done to prevent them from returning."
"What's actually happening is that we are normalizing the situation. If we once lived in a routine of emergency in the periphery, now we are in a routine of war. Everyone is going back to their lives, doing nothing for three months now, neither militarily nor politically. We mostly hear chatter and are expected to live like this. Everyone is returning to their business and members of Knesset are going on Passover break and flying on vacations, this situation is not normal," he said.
"We've been managing some kind of negotiation loop for three months now. Either say 'we are ready to go with all Hamas' demands' and agree to a deal or apply military pressure as you told us that only military pressure will lead to the release of the hostages. Right now, neither is being done, we are left hanging. In practice, we are not in the Gaza Strip today. All the talk about fighting in the Gaza Strip is nonsense. Make a deal. Bring everyone home.
"If we despair and lower our heads, then the Cabinet could just do nothing and then this event will fade away and we will have to live our lives knowing that our loved ones are in the Gaza Strip, God knows where and in what situation. Therefore, I wake up every morning and realize that I must not despair if I want my father to come home."
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