At Tel Aviv rally, families cry out for hostages ‘who cannot be here to cry out themselves’

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

At the 19th consecutive weekly rally in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square, organizers announce a change in the event’s format so it only features speeches by relatives of hostages and no musical performances.

Haim Rubinstein, the spokesperson of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, opens the demonstration with a moment of silence, inviting the thousands of people present to think of the soldiers fighting in Gaza.

“Tonight on the stage, families will cry out in the name of their loved ones wasting away in tunnels in Gaza, who cannot be here to cry out themselves,” says Rubinstein. He lists the forum’s grievances, including the government’s decision not to send a negotiation team to Cairo on Thursday to continue talks with Hamas on a hostage swap.

“Hamas demands may be high, and we’re not calling for a deal at any price, we understand. But the negotiation only started —  get into the negotiation room now,” says Rubinstein.

Danny Elgarat, 69, whose brother Itzik was abducted from Nir Oz, cries out “Go get them” 12 times, directing his call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A brother of Omer Neutra, an Israeli soldier in Hamas captivity who is also a US citizen, echoes Elgarat. “We’ve run out of time; we need a deal now to save my brother’s life,” he says.

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