Zohar Avigdori, uncle of 12-year old Noam Avigdori, who was released on Saturday from captivity in Gaza together with her mother, Sharon, said on Tuesday that the contract between Israel and its citizens was shattered on October 7 and would take decades to repair.
Speaking to the press, Avigdori said that the struggle of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, of which he is a member, was to help “rewrite” that contract through pressuring the government to give the return of all the hostages precedence over other war goals.
Avigdori said Noam and Sharon, his sister-in-law, were doing well in general, but noted that she had only been informed of the death of her brother, and the full picture of what happened on October 7, after she left captivity, and that she was still coming to terms with that reality.
Sharon and Noam were abducted by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Be’eri during the brutal assault the terror group staged on October 7, during which thousands of terrorists streamed over the border into southern Israel, slaughtering some 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 others.
They were visiting the kibbutz to see Sharon’s brother, who was murdered in the attack. Her husband Hen and second son Omer had decided not to go along for the visit.
Avigdori said that after the first few weeks of the war the Hostages and Missing Families Forum believed that toppling Hamas and not returning the hostages was the government’s primary goal, and that the organization’s main goal became changing these priorities.
This was something the forum understood would take “strong public pressure to bring about.”
“We realized that beyond our own personal suffering and our wish to see our loved ones back, it was about rewriting the contract between the State of Israel and its citizens that was violently and brutally broken on October 7,” he said, speaking in English.
“We knew and we still know that if not all the hostages come back, the validity of what it means to have the State of Israel toward its citizens [sic] will drop to an extent that it would be diminished completely.”
Asked about the state of that contract seven weeks after the shocking events of October 7, Avigdori said it would take “decades to cure” and that the task of repairing it went “way beyond the initial responsibility to bring back the hostages.”
Talking about Sharon and Noam, he said that “all in all they seem fine, but it’s too soon to tell,” in light of the trauma they endured as hostages in Gaza, and the emotional difficulties they have faced since their release.
“The last seven weeks have been completely surreal and incomprehensible and this [their release] is another face of that surrealism, because even to hug them… and to say ‘you are now back after spending 50 days being held captive by a ruthless, radical Islamic terrorist organization’ — it still sounds like the plot of a movie and not something that has happened to your immediate family,” said Avigdori.
He said that Sharon lost three family members in the massacres, including her brother, and only discovered the tragic news after she was released.
“She [Sharon] had to be told like many of the other hostages who are now discovering that they lost family members and that entire communities were erased and burned to ground,” he said.
“That’s a lot to take in, and that’s what the next couple of days will be dedicated to… the goal of them rebuilding their lives and overcoming this trauma.”
But Avigdori said that he and the whole family were also committed to continuing their work in the forum “until the very last hostage is returned,” because of a shared sense of responsibility among those whose family members have been, and are still, held hostage in Gaza.
“To us it is not a question, the fight is all of ours to fight and we will keep on encouraging / pressuring, the Israeli government and international actors to bring about the immediate release of all hostages and [that this should remain the] first and primary goal of Israeli policy right now.”