ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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Argentine soccer announcer who advocates for hostages celebrates aunt’s release

Hernan Feler, a Jewish soccer commentator, has used his platform to champion the cause of those kidnapped by Hamas

Hernan Feler shown with his aunt Ofelia Roitman, who was released by Hamas on Nov. 28, 2023. (Courtesy of Feler via JTA)
Hernan Feler shown with his aunt Ofelia Roitman, who was released by Hamas on Nov. 28, 2023. (Courtesy of Feler via JTA)

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — For weeks, renowned Argentinian TV soccer announcer Hernan Feler has been making headlines by talking about the Israeli hostages being held by Hamas during broadcasted games.

In doing so, he has mentioned one Israeli by name: his aunt, Ofelia Roitman, who was captured in Kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7.

“Omitting and staying silent is synonymous with complicity. Bring Ofelia back, bring all the kidnapped back. We are waiting for them,” Feler said during the Nov. 12 match between the Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys, two teams in Argentina’s top soccer league.

Roitman, 77, a mother of three and grandmother of nine, immigrated from Buenos Aires to Israel in 1985. She was released on Tuesday as part of Israel’s truce agreement with Hamas that released three Palestinian prisoners for every Israeli hostage.

Feler expressed his happiness to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a text message, but added “this ends when all the kidnapped return back to their homes.”

Feler announces games for TyC Sports, a popular pay-to-watch sports channel that broadcasts Argentina’s top soccer league to viewers outside of the country. He cried in an online interview with the channel after Roitman’s release.

Ofelia Roitman, 77, was taken captive from her Kibbutz Nir Oz home on October 7, 2023, after Hamas terrorists attacked the community. She was freed on November 28, 2023. (Courtesy)

“We had the information that she was going to be released, but until you see it, you don’t believe it,” he said in the interview. “It has been very difficult times, but we are still very moved.”

The Argentine Jewish community has been devastated by the war, as the kibbutzes attacked by Hamas were very popular with Argentine Jews who immigrated to Israel in recent decades, and over 20 Argentina-born people were among the over 200 captured on Oct. 7. Late last month, 500 people gathered at a Buenos Aires synagogue to mourn one Argentine victim of the Oct. 7 attacks.

The Argentine-Jewish communal umbrella group DAIA is holding a Buenos Aires rally in support of Israel on Dec. 7, timed to exactly two months since the initial Hamas attacks.

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