Families of UK citizens held hostage in Gaza beg for help: Captors ‘have no mercy’

Relatives of 17 Britons feared abducted to Gaza decry terrorists’ brutal rampage, urge media to ‘call Hamas for what they are’

Sharon Lifschitz, left, and Noam Sagi sit down for a press conference of British children of Israeli hostages at a hotel in London, October 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Sharon Lifschitz, left, and Noam Sagi sit down for a press conference of British children of Israeli hostages at a hotel in London, October 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The Britain-based family members of some of those believed abducted and taken to Gaza by Palestinian terrorists pleaded for help in securing their release at a press conference in London on Thursday.

Dozens of foreign citizens from across the globe were among 150 men, women, and children dragged into Gaza when Hamas orchestrated a murderous onslaught across southern Israel Saturday morning, killing over 1,300 people.

“We now have to fight for those we can still save,” said Sharon Lifschitz, whose octogenarian parents were kidnapped by Hamas during the terror group’s brutal rampage through Kibbutz Nir Oz. “The place is gone, the dead are dead, and somewhere in Gaza there are children and mothers, and this is our fight now.”

Noam Sagi, whose 75-year-old mother Adi Sagi was taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz, described what the area went through as a “second Holocaust.”

“They were gassed, burned, butchered, slaughtered, and kidnapped. Mostly young kids and elderly,” he said.

“People who survived the Holocaust found themselves facing another one,” Sagi added. “One of the hostages was on the Kindertransport,” he told the press, referencing a rescue operation organized by Briton Sir Nicholas Winton that saved 669 Jewish children from the Nazis during World War II.

Officials in Israel and the US have indicated that one of the hostages was a Holocaust survivor, without elaborating. Several of those kidnapped were elderly or young children.

It is estimated that 17 British nationals were kidnapped or killed, including a 6-month-old baby named Ariel who was seen on video being taken hostage with his 3-year-old brother Kfir and mother Shiri Silberman-Bibas.

Their pictures were displayed alongside other missing or slain Britons at the London press conference.

“In Israeli civilian communities in the south of Israel, they went door to door, snatched babies from their mothers and children from their beds, handcuffed them and then brutally, cold-bloodedly, slaughtered them,” said Sharon Shochat, who organized the conference. “Entire families were butchered in their homes. … Girls were raped over their friends’ bodies.”

Sagi called on the media to “call Hamas for what they are” and said news outlets are being “manipulated” by the terror group. Foreign media often cast the organization’s forces as “militants” as opposed to terrorists, granting the group a sheen of legitimacy.

A house where forty Israeli civilians were held hostage in Kibbutz Be’eri, October 11, 2023 (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)

Sagi also said he wanted to thank the people of Britain and the British government for their support.

“The senseless destruction took so much from me and my community,” said Sharon Lifshitz, whose elderly parents were abducted.

“I feel hollow for the past few days, but I feel like we are strong. Together we are facing this thing, an act of such barbarity that it is coaxing us into hate and rage and wanting to destroy,” she said.

“I am here because there is work to do. There are hostages in Gaza, my mum was disconnected from her oxygen and loaded onto a motorbike,” she added.

“My father spent his life fighting for peace. We are all his children when we ask for peace,” Lifshitz said. “I am not here for politics. I do not have the luxury of that. We need to act together to fight the hatred and say no to the massacre and destruction.”

“I don’t accept butchery from Boko Haram, Islamic State, or from our neighbors, Hamas,” she said. “They have shown us that they have no mercy.”

Through tears, she said that her neighbor’s daughter is autistic and will not be coping in Gaza.

“I want her out,” she demanded. “The children and elderly must come home.”

“I call on any citizens … There are many Arab friends that my father had, that I have, many Muslims, many Christians, many Buddhists, many Hindus,  I don’t care, come together,” she said. “Let’s bring these children home.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has offered Israel and British Jews solidarity and on Wednesday Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited southern Israel to offer his support.

Sunak held talks Thursday with Egypt’s President Abdul Fatah al-Sissi focused on efforts to open a humanitarian corridor for Gazans, as Israel bombards the Strip. It is not known if the British hostages were discussed.

War erupted after Hamas’s Saturday massacre, which saw at least 1,500 terrorists cross the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing over 1,300 people and seizing 150 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women and children. Entire families were executed in their homes and in some locations, the Palestinian terrorists mutilated their victims.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said more than 1,400 in the Palestinian enclave have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes. Israel said it is targeting terrorist infrastructure and all areas where Hamas operates or hides and that Israeli forces have killed some 1,500 Hamas terrorists who infiltrated into its territory since Saturday.

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