Two Israeli women freed from Gaza as part of a temporary pause in fighting with Hamas are the latest to begin publicly campaigning for the release of their partners who are still being held hostage in the Strip.
Ilana Gritzewsky, 30, released November 30 as part of an extension of the temporary ceasefire deal, is pushing for the release of her boyfriend, Matan Zangauker, 24, while Raz Ben Ami, 57, released on November 29, is working for the release of her husband Ohad, also 57, who also remains captive in Gaza.
Ben Ami made her way to Tel Aviv’s so-called Hostages Square on Friday, just two days after being freed from Gaza, to call for her husband’s release.
On Thursday, while Ben Ami was recovering in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital following her release, she was filmed during a performance by singer Yigal Oshri at the medical center holding a poster of her and her husband.
Raz and Ohad Ben Ami were taken hostage from their home in Kibbutz Be’eri by Hamas terrorists on October 7, as the terror group slaughtered and kidnapped residents, committing brutal atrocities.
One of their three daughters, Ella, was also in Be’eri and survived. Their other two were not in the area at the time of the attack.
״עוד יבואו ימים טובים״: יגל אושרי הגיע לבית החולים ושר יחד רז בן עמי שחזרה מהשבי את להיט המלחמה ״לצאת מדיכאון״ pic.twitter.com/E6xr0hNfwt
— Ran Boker רן בוקר (@ranboker) November 30, 2023
Two weeks after they were kidnapped, a photo of Ohad appeared on social media showing him in a T-shirt and underwear, being dragged by his shirt by a terrorist.
A video of Raz also surfaced, barefoot and in her pajamas, being pulled by terrorists on the road.
Gritzewsky, freed the day after Ben Ari, spoke with her partner’s family upon her return, who said the news of her release came with mixed emotions.
“Such joy, we’re so happy that she’s back,” Einav Zangauker, Matan’s mother, told the Ynet news site. “It’s a miracle, but it’s bittersweet.”
“When news started coming out about the release of women and children, we waited anxiously hoping that Ilana would be on one of the lists,” Zanguaker was quoted as saying. “In the end, she was on the last list before the end of the ceasefire. We feel incredibly lucky and happy.”
Zanguaker said that since October 7, the families of captives have been working together to free their loved ones, and that her son’s partner was joining the campaign.
Zanguaker said that she had met with Gritzewsky, a dual Mexican-Israeli citizen, since her release, and that she was doing well. “She’s strong, she’s a fighter,” Zanguaker said. “She told me, ‘I am on a mission – to get my boyfriend back.'”
The young couple was taken hostage from Kibbutz Nir Oz in Hamas’s grizzly massacre on October 7, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from Gaza by land, air and sea, killing at least 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
During the week-long truce, which ended early Friday after it was violated by Hamas, 81 Israeli hostages taken during the unprecedented Hamas assault on southern Israel were exchanged for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Israel says that Gaza terror groups were still holding 136 people when the Qatar-led truce collapsed — 114 men, 20 women and two children. Ten of the hostages are 75 and older. The vast majority of the hostages, 125, are Israeli. Eleven are foreign nationals, including eight from Thailand.
Also joining the protests among released captives was Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was released from Hamas captivity last month. She turned out at a rally outside Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv last week, calling for the release of her husband, Oded Lifshitz, 83, who is still held hostage in Gaza.
Negotiators have until now concentrated on securing the release of women and children.
The release of male hostages and soldiers, male and female, is likely to be much harder to negotiate, with Hamas expected to demand a high price for their freedom.