Brothers of hostages appeal via international media: ‘Bring our loved ones home’

Older siblings of Idan Shtivi, 28, Evyatar David, 22, and twins Ziv and Gali Berman, 26: ‘We’re not politicians, we don’t run countries and wars, we just want our brothers back’

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

  • Gali (left) and Ziv (right) Berman, kidnapped by Hamas from Kfar Aza to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)
    Gali (left) and Ziv (right) Berman, kidnapped by Hamas from Kfar Aza to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)
  • Liran Berman, elder brother of Hamas hostages and twins Ziv and Gali Berman, 26, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screenshot)
    Liran Berman, elder brother of Hamas hostages and twins Ziv and Gali Berman, 26, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screenshot)
  • Idan Shtivi, 28, kidnapped by Hamas from Kfar Aza to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)
    Idan Shtivi, 28, kidnapped by Hamas from Kfar Aza to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)
  • Omri Shtivi, elder brother of Hamas hostage Idan Shtivi, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screen shot)
    Omri Shtivi, elder brother of Hamas hostage Idan Shtivi, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screen shot)
  • Evyatar David, 22, kidnapped by Hamas from an all night party near Kibbutz Re'im in southern Israel to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)
    Evyatar David, 22, kidnapped by Hamas from an all night party near Kibbutz Re'im in southern Israel to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)
  • Ilay David, brother of Hamas hostage Evyatar David, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screen shot)
    Ilay David, brother of Hamas hostage Evyatar David, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screen shot)

Omri Shtivi spent two weeks piecing bits of video footage together to understand exactly what had happened to his younger brother, Idan, 28, when he was abducted by Hamas terrorists while trying to escape from the Supernova festival on October 7.

The footage was obtained from the dashcam of the car Idan drove with two passengers, also from the festival, as well as from body camera shots from Hamas operatives and IDF soldiers.

“Idan suffers from anxiety,” Shtivi — one of three brothers — told an international media conference organized Tuesday via Zoom by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a civilian organization formed within hours of the October 7 assault on southern Israel by Hamas terrorists who killed more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapped some 240 to the Gaza Strip.

“I cannot imagine what he’s going through right now,” Omri Shtivi said. “All those who call themselves humanitarian, or just human, need to help us to bring the hostages home.”

Shtivi, a second-year student of sustainability, was supposed to return to university on Monday. Fellow students have left an empty chair for him, Omri Shtivi said.

After deliberating whether to go, Idan Shtivi arrived at the all-night rave, near Kibbutz Re’im, to photograph a yoga session put on by friends, just an hour before the terror group unleashed a storm of rockets, and its armed men invaded the party, shooting everywhere.

Idan Shtivi, 28, kidnapped by Hamas from Kfar Aza to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)

The death toll from the event was 364 — including 17 police officers — and 40 people were abducted. Some 4,000 people were reportedly at the event.

One of the first to drive out of the party site, he dodged Hamas bullets but was shot and injured, as documented on the car’s dashcam seen by brother Omri. After hitting a tree, he and the other two tried to run. Footage from a Hamas camera, later retrieved by the IDF, showed a terrorist shooting the two friends multiple times.

Omri Shtivi, elder brother of Hamas hostage Idan Shtivi, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screenshot)

Sometime later, the IDF picked up a phone signal confirming that Idan was in the Gaza Strip.

Twins Ziv and Gali Berman, 26, are also being held in Gaza, after being abducted by the terrorists who overran Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7.

Elder brother Liran told the Zoom event that the family, absurdly, was happy when, on October 17, they were informed that the two had been abducted. “We thought we were going to bury my two little brothers,” he said.

Liran Berman, elder brother of Hamas hostages and twins Ziv and Gali Berman, 26, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screenshot)

“Since then, we’ve heard nothing. We don’t know if they are together, or injured, or if what I’m doing is futile because they’ve already been killed.”

The twins did everything together, Berman said. They worked as light technicians together at a sound and light company, traveled the world together, supported the same soccer team, and went to the games together. “They are the light of every room they enter,” he added.

Berman has been to the US Congress and European Parliament “to speak to whoever will listen to me.” He added, “I have two little kids, but I’m not a father right now, nor a husband.”

Gali (left) and Ziv (right) Berman, kidnapped by Hamas from Kfar Aza to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)

Shortly after returning from Europe, he heard the bitter news that Alon Shamriz, a close friend of the twins, was one of three hostages accidentally killed in Gaza on Friday by the IDF. Two of the dead were from Kfar Aza.

Shamriz and the twins grew up together, traveled for five months through South America together, and were kidnapped from the same kibbutz neighborhood, where young kibbutz members live.

“There are no words,” Birman said. “[Shamriz] was so close to being home and with his family.”

Ilay David said his sensitive, guitar-playing younger brother Evyatar, 22, was supposed to be traveling with friends to Thailand.

Evyatar David, 22, kidnapped by Hamas from an all-night party near Kibbutz Re’im in southern Israel to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy, the family)

The family,  from the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba, saw a video clip posted by Hamas on the social media channel Telegram in which they saw Evyatar “being dragged into the Gaza Strip by terrorists, holding him in a headlock, with a gun in the other hand. My brother’s shirt was torn. But he was walking, which gave some kind of comfort that he was alive. ”

Ilay David, brother of Hamas hostage Evyatar David, appeals through the international media for world leaders to bring the hostages home, December 19, 2023. (Zoom screenshot)

Another Hamas video showed Evyatar with four other young Israeli men abducted from the festival. “They were all tied up, lying or sitting on the floor, one had been beaten, and the cameraman was filming each of the faces,” said Ilay David. “They wanted us to see the fear in their eyes, to see that they were confused and terrified,  and they wanted to show how proud they were of what they had done.  It was so painful and infuriating to see my brother in that situation, because big brothers should be there to protect the younger ones, and we couldn’t do it.”

“We know nothing about their wellbeing,” he continued. “The only thing we hope is that he’s being held with his best friend from kindergarten. We recognized both of them in one of the videos. That’s our only comfort, besides the fact we saw him alive.”

He added, “We are not politicians, we don’t run countries and wars, we just want our brothers back.”

Most Popular
read more: