Israeli hostage families urge foreign pressure for a ceasefire in Gaza

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People walk past a poster of a hostage kidnapped during the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, along with other items taped to a light pole in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 7, 2024. | Photo credit: Reuters

Families of hostages held in Gaza have urged the United States and other governments, with civilians among the prisoners, to pressure Israel to reach a deal with Hamas over their return.

Following indications Monday of progress in talks on a ceasefire in the seven-month war, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said it had called on a number of countries to “exert your influence on the Israeli government” and push for a agreement.

“At this crucial moment, with a tangible option for the release of the hostages on the table, it is paramount that your government expresses its strong support for such an agreement,” the group said in a message to ambassadors. of all countries with civilians among the hostages seized by Palestinian militants on October 7.

“Now is the time to exert your influence on the Israeli government and all other parties involved to ensure that the agreement that will ultimately bring all our loved ones home is achieved.”

During the October 7 attack that sparked the brutal war in Gaza, Palestinian militants seized about 250 hostages, including foreigners and dual nationals, including American, Thai, French, British and Russian nationals.

Hostage families were among those who urged Israel to reach a deal with Hamas to bring the prisoners home during repeated protests.

No breakthrough

Despite months of shuttle diplomacy, mediators have so far failed to broker a new ceasefire, as in the weeklong ceasefire that saw the release of 105 hostages last November, including Israelis in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

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Previous negotiating efforts had stalled in part over Hamas’ demands for a lasting ceasefire and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promises to crush the remaining fighters in Rafah.

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