Ex-captive fears PM more interested in winning war than freeing hostages

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Aviva Siegel speaks to PBS NewsHour on January 2, 2024. (Screen capture/PBS)
Aviva Siegel speaks to PBS NewsHour on January 2, 2024. (Screen capture/PBS)

Aviva Siegel, who was released from Hamas captivity after 51 days, says she fears that the Israeli government’s desire to win the war in Gaza will come at the expense of the hostages.

Siegel’s husband Keith remains captive in Gaza, with over 100 others who were kidnapped on October 7.

“I have a feeling that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu wants to keep the war going because he wants to win the war, but he can’t keep the war going and get the hostages out,” Siegel tells PBS NewsHour.

“He needs to go to a ceasefire and then get them out, and he needs to get them out now as quick as possible because 88 days are enough,” Siegel says.

Asked whether she thinks Netanyahu is prioritizing winning the war over bringing the hostages home, Siegel responds, “I’ve got a feeling that that’s why the war is continuing, he wants to win the war.”

Siegel, 62, recalls the moment when she was separated from her husband upon her release from Hamas captivity.

“They hardly let me. I said, ‘Sorry. I’m going to say goodbye to Keith’ because he was in a different room and I just pushed them and ran to Keith,” she recalls. “I gave him a big, huge hug. And I said, ‘You be strong for me, I’ll be strong for you’ because I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again.”

“And I’m strong for Keith now, but I want him back. He is 64-years-old, he has health problems and he needs to get out now with all the other hostages,” Siegel says.

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