Israel-Hamas War: Latest News and Live Updates

With the Israeli government fighting in Gaza to root out Hamas, many people whose loved ones were kidnapped in the October 7 attack on Israel fear that the intensifying fighting will put the hostages in even greater danger.

Jon Polin’s 23-year-old son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, is believed to be among the hostages. Mr Polin said he would have preferred the government to exhaust all other options to free his son and the other hostages before the Israeli army intervened, but also admitted he probably would have thought differently if his son had not been kidnapped on October 7 . .

That day, Hersh Goldberg-Polin was at a music festival. When Hamas fighters arrived, he lost part of his hand to a grenade blast, an injury documented on video of him being loaded into a Hamas truck.

“I understand the Israeli government’s feeling that we have to go in and take action against Hamas,” Jon Polin said, but added: “The best option for everybody in the world is to have a diplomatic, humanitarian release of all the hostages.”

Daniel Lifshitz’s grandmother, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, was one of four hostages released by Hamas. But his joy at being reunited with her was quickly overshadowed by concern for his grandfather Oded Lifshitz, 83, who is still believed to be in custody.

The couple, both peace activists from Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border, were kidnapped when their community was overwhelmed by the attacks.

Since Israel began sending ground troops into Gaza on Friday, Mr. Lifshitz’s fear of his grandfather has intensified. “I have no justification for how an act of war can help the hostages,” he said, worrying that instead “it will make things much more difficult.”

Mr Lifshitz said he would prefer the government to take responsibility for its failures on October 7, put more pressure on Qatar to negotiate the release of the hostages and “take whatever deal is offered on the table”, no matter the cost.

The families of the hostages hold close to daily protests. On Thursday in Tel Aviv, dozens of survivors of the Oct. 7 attack sat silently in a central square wearing red blindfolds, their hands tied with plastic wrist ties, as part of a campaign to keep the fate of the hostages public. .

Limited progress has been made in securing the freedom of the hostages. Two were released by Hamas on October 20 and two on October 23 after negotiations mediated by Qatar. A fifth hostage, a soldier, was rescued by Israeli forces during a special operation on Monday. According to the Israeli militaryone of the goals of the ground activity in Gaza is to help rescue the hostages.

Yehuda Beinin โ€” whose daughter Liat Beinin Atzili and son-in-law Aviv Atzili, both 49, are believed to be hostages โ€” returned this week from a visit to the United States to speak with lawmakers and others about the hostage crisis.

Mr. Beinin said he strongly believes that “Israel must complete its mission to destroy Hamas and everything associated with it.” Although he said he did not know enough to say whether the ground invasion would help return his family members, he believed the United States was advising Israel to minimize civilian casualties, which could “otherwise complicate the hostage situation ยป.

It’s been almost a month since most families have heard of loved ones who went missing on October 7th. “Unfortunately the clock is ticking,” Mr. Lifshitz said. With the war escalating, he said he was “begging for restraint and caution” and that he hoped “both sides are doing everything they can to free the hostages.”

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Tel Aviv.

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