IDF spokesperson: Efforts being made to free 'all hostages'

Family of elderly Israeli held by Hamas fears for hostages without dual nationality

Granddaughter of 85-year-old Yaffa Adar, who was taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz to Gaza aboard a golf cart, worried by lack of pressure to release captives without foreign passport

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Palestinian terrorists kidnap an Israeli civilian, center, later identified as 85-year-old Yaffa Adar, into the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023 (AP/ Hatem Ali)
Palestinian terrorists kidnap an Israeli civilian, center, later identified as 85-year-old Yaffa Adar, into the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023 (AP/ Hatem Ali)

The family of an elderly Israeli woman held captive in Gaza by the Hamas terror group voiced concern on Saturday that hostages without foreign citizenship who were taken by the terrorists may be at a disadvantage, following the release Friday of dual American-Israeli nationals Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie.

Adva Adar, whose 85-year-old grandmother Yaffa Adar was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz during Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern Israel, told the Kan public broadcaster that she was happy for Judith and Natalie’s family, but feared for those who cannot utilize pressure from other countries to secure their loved ones’ release.

Footage posted online showed Yaffa Adar being taken by terrorists to the enclave in a golf cart.

“The thought that they will slow-drip release the hostages they want, those with foreign citizenship. The thought about what that means for those that don’t have foreign citizenship, for those who don’t have those pressure levers, it’s very scary,” Adva said.

“And on a personal level, my grandmother, and many elderly people that unfortunately are held prisoner together with her don’t have the privilege to wait for this slow-drip, or to wait until Hamas releases all the foreign nationals or anything like that.

“My grandmother doesn’t have the time. The thought that another Shabbat goes by that she isn’t here is difficult, it hurts and is very concerning,” Adva stated.

In this handout photo provided by Adva Adar and Elinor Shahar Personal Management, Yaffa Adar, left, hugs her granddaughter Adva Adar during her wedding, in 2021. Yaffa Adar is the elderly woman the world saw being driven by Hamas terrorists in a golf cart hours after they murdered Israelis in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. (Adva Adar and Elinor Shahar Personal Management via AP)

“We don’t have the pressure levers of second nationalities, we are only Israelis, which is absurd that it is something we have to apologize for,” she continued. “My grandmother was born in this country, she built it with her two hands, and it cannot be that that isn’t enough to release her from captivity. It cannot be that someone needs to have foreign citizenship so enough pressure can be exerted to release the elderly from imprisonment. It’s absurd in my eyes that we are having this conversation.”

Adar said she had encountered a lot of empathy from international relief officials and diplomats, but lamented that empathy alone won’t help her grandmother.

“In the end, my grandmother needs her heart medication, she needs her kidney medication, and empathy won’t help her now. Beyond empathy, we need action, and those actions, before everything, includes giving them their medical treatment and returning them home,” she said.

Families of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza hold up photographs of their abducted relatives, at “Hostage Square,” outside the Art Museum of Tel Aviv, October 21, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Hamas has so far refused requests by the Red Cross to gain access to the hostages, sparking major concerns for the welfare of captives who need medication, and those who were injured during the abduction.

Judith and Natalie — who were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7 — were handed over by Hamas to the Red Cross Friday, which then transferred them to Israel. The exact mechanism of the transfer was not immediately clear. Hamas cited that the release was made “for humanitarian reasons.”

The step was widely viewed in Israel as a public relations gambit, with Hamas interested in somewhat rehabilitating its image since its fighters conducted brutal massacres of Israeli civilians in the terror group’s unprecedented attack on southern communities.

Hamas spokesperson Abu Obeida claimed Saturday it offered to release two more hostages the next day under the same procedures, but that Israel refused to accept it.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said “we won’t respond to Hamas’s propaganda lies.”

“We will continue to do everything possible to return all the hostages and missing home,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

People gather at a Tel Aviv vigil in support of families of Israelies held hostage by terror groups in Gaza. (@sha_b_p / Protest organizers)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari emphasized Saturday evening the military is doing “everything, around the clock, as a national priority, to return everyone home … to their families, and to locate the missing.”

Citing the release of the two American nationals, a reporter asked Hagari if efforts to release hostages were “selective” depending on the citizenships they held.

Hagari stressed that the country’s efforts were directed at freeing “all hostages.”

“This is a national mission, this is what we see before our eyes, and that’s how we will continue to work,” he said.

An Israeli woman touches with he hand photos of Israelis held captive in Gaza, displayed on a wall in Tel Aviv, on Saturday Oct. 21, 2023. (AP/Petros Giannakouris)

Israel has been at war with Hamas since October 7, when 2,500 terrorists broke through the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip in a multipronged, devastating onslaught. More than 1,000 civilians were massacred, and at least 210 people — including Israelis and foreign nationals — were taken hostage under a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what US President Joe Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Israel says around 1,500 Hamas terrorists were killed in clashes before the IDF regained control of the area under assault.

In response, Israel launched an offensive aimed at destroying Hamas.

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said the strikes have killed more than 4,300 Palestinians. The toll issued by the terror group cannot be independently authenticated and is believed to include its own terrorists and gunmen, as well as victims of a blast at a Gaza City hospital on October 17 caused by an Islamic Jihad misfired missile aimed at Israel, which Hamas has blamed on Israel. Israel has produced evidence showing the blast was caused by a Gazan rocket that fell short. The United States, also citing its own data, has endorsed the Israeli account.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: