Desperate families of Israeli children kidnapped by Hamas – including a baby and a four-year-old seen being taken away with their weeping mother – have broken down on live TV as they made heartbreaking appeals for their rescue.
Speaking at a press conference with other families who had loved ones snatched in Hamas’s raid on Nir Oz kibbutz on October 7, one relative was unable to hold back her tears as she recounted seeing a video of her cousin being taken by the terrorists.
At least 203 people are thought to have been taken hostage after Hamas‘s surprise attack more than a week ago.
The woman, who introduced herself as Efrat at the press conference, is related to Shiri Bibas Silverman.
Video of Shiri holding her two redheaded sons, Ariel, 4, and baby Kfir, covered in a blanket as they were taken away from their home went viral following the terrorists’ bloody invasion.
The woman, who introduced herself as Efrat at the press conference, is related to Shiri Bibas Silverman
Video of Shiri Bibas Silverman holding her two redheaded sons, Ariel, 4, and baby Kfir, covered in a blanket as they were taken away from their home went viral following the terrorists’ bloody invasion
The press conference was for families who who had loved ones snatched in Hamas’s raid on Nir Oz Kibbutz on October 7
Efrat said the family was ‘surrounded by terrorists’ and ‘covered in blood, not their own’.
‘This is the only sign of life that we have from them,’ she said.
She said tomorrow will mark 14 days since they were taken, before realising that one of the children, Kfir, will have turned 10 months old since his kidnap.
She said: ‘He was born on January 18. I don’t want to sit here in two months’ time in a press conference celebrating his first birthday.
‘On Monday we received a photo of Yarden, their father, being driven into the Gaza strip on a motorcyle.
‘He is severely injured in his head. We know nothing – we have no photos of my aunt and uncle. We only received the confirmation that they’re not among the dead and they’re probably there as well.
‘My aunt has severe Parkinson’s disease. She is without her medication. I don’t know if the baby has formula. He doesn’t eat food well yet, to survive.’
‘This is torture,’ she said.
She added: ‘They’re innocent civilians, innocent children. In hard conditions. They’re not a pawn or a game in a war. They need to be released and released now.
‘This is crazy. This is a nightmare.’
In the video, Efrat appears unable to continue and puts her head in her hands.
Ohad Munder, nine, was due to have his birthday party this weekend before he went missing following Hamas’s invasion on October 7.
‘Unfortunately he won’t be able to celebrate his birthday,’ Merav Raviv said at the press conference today, adding that his mother had already sent out the invitations.
She paid tribute to the missing boy who she described as ‘talented’ and ‘sporty’.
Horrifying video shows the moment Shiri and her two young sons are dragged screaming from their home near the Gaza border by Hamas terrorists before disappearing.
Ohad Munder, nine, was due to have his birthday party this weekend before he went missing following Hamas’s invasion. ‘Unfortunately he won’t be able to celebrate his birthday,’ Merav Raviv (pictured) said today, adding his mother had already sent out the invitations
Children kidnapped by Hamas
Shiri and her little boys appear to have been pushed into armoured vehicles by Hamas fighters after their village was stormed
Social media footage of Shiri sobbing as she and her children are taken away by the militants has sparked anguish
The whereabouts of three-year-old Ariel and nine-month-old Kfir are not known after Hamas terrorists kidnapped their family
Doron Asher Katz, 34, was visiting her mother in Nir Oz near the Gaza border with their two daughters, aged two and four, when Hamas attacked
Shiri, 30, was hiding in a safe room with her husband Yarden and their children Kfir and Ariel when Israel was invaded by the terrorists on October 7.
Armed with just a small pistol, Yarden hoped to defend his family and their home in Nir Oz kibbutz as villages were raided – in an attack that saw hundreds of Israelis killed and dozens taken hostage.
Half an hour later, he ominously wrote ‘they’re coming in’, before communication ceased.
The family has not been heard from since, and Shiri’s parents, Yosi and Margit Silberman, who are in their late 60s, are also missing and feared abducted.
Later, video emerged showing the distraught mother clutching her two children as they are kidnapped, with no sign of their father, as horrified onlookers scream: ‘She has a baby.’
Social media footage of Shiri sobbing as she and her children are taken away by the terrorists sparked anguish among the Jewish community worldwide.
The mother’s expression of horror and pictures of her innocent sons in happier times have been used by demonstrators around the world to illustrate the terror inflicted on Israel by Hamas.
Distraught Israelis at a vigil outside Downing Street in London held up pictures of the mum and her boys being taken, with one placard begging: ‘Let the children go’.
Devastated relatives spoke of their horror at seeing the footage, with Shiri’s cousin Yosi telling Sky News that his family member’s disappearance has made him ‘want to go and fight’.
‘The first time I saw the pictures I couldn’t believe it,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t comprehend what I saw, then I look at another picture and it was very clear that this is my cousin Shiri and the two little children.’
‘My fear’s that they separated them, that they separated them, that they killed them, that they’re injured, that we wont see them again, that we won’t even get any piece of information with them and we will stay in this blank forever.’
Grandparents Margit and Yosi and parents Yarden and Shiri have not been heard from since October 7
Weeping Israelis held a vigil outside Downing Street holding up pictures of Kfir and Ariel
Shiri’s niece Yifat Zailer, who spoke to the New York Times, said she will not rest until her relatives are returned home.
‘I just hope that they are alive, and that they are together. And I want them home, with me, so I can hug them tightly again,’ she said.
‘We feel that those responsible don’t know what to do, because this is a situation we’ve never been in before. That’s the feeling in Israel,’ she added. ‘It’s a catastrophe.’
Other families were captured during the attack on Nir Oz.
Father-of-two Yoni Asher said he received a call from his panic-stricken wife saying terrorists had stormed into the house.
Doron Asher Katz, 34, was visiting her mother in the settlement with their two daughters, aged two and four, when Hamas attacked.
After losing contact with her, Yoni saw a video of them on social media being loaded into a cart by militants.
‘I surely identified my wife, my two daughters and my mother-in-law on some kind of a cart, and terrorists of Hamas all around them,’ he said.
He was able to track his wife’s mobile phone and saw its location was in Khan Yunis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.
He said: ‘My little two girls, they are only babies, they are not even five years old and three years old.
‘I don’t know in what terms they are captive. I don’t know what happened to them.’
Yoni appealed directly to Hamas to not hurt his family and even offered to exchange himself for their safe return.
The remains of a family home in Nir Oz kibbutz following a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip
The remains of a family home in Nir Oz kibbutz following the terrorist attack
The devastation from the attack on Nir Oz kibbutz
Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue and Israel’s defense minister has told troops to be ready for a ground assault on the Palestinian territory, although he has not said when that will begin.
More than 1 million Palestinians, roughly half of Gaza’s population, have fled homes in the north and Gaza City after Israel told them to evacuate.
The airstrikes early on Thursday continued across the entire territory, including in areas in the south that Israel had declared as ‘safe zones’.
The war that began on October 7 after Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel, and Israel vowed to destroy them, has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides.
The Gaza Health Ministry said on Thursday that 3,785 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 12,500 others have been wounded.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly in the initial attack.