Israeli pointman on hostages says PM will meet with families; 126 notified so far

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Gal Hirsch, the government point man on missing and kidnapped citizens, speaks during a meeting with relatives of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas and missing Israelis in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Gal Hirsch, the government point man on missing and kidnapped citizens, speaks during a meeting with relatives of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas and missing Israelis in Tel Aviv, October 13, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Some 126 families have received official information of some sort about missing loved ones, says Gal Hirsch, Israel’s newly appointed special envoy for missing and kidnapped Israelis.

“The decision to go to a house to tell them about a hostage or death, we have to be very precise,” he explains.

Hirsch adds that he speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu multiple times every day, and that Netanyahu will meet with families of the kidnapped and missing.

Hirsch’s team is still working to identify all the killed in action and kidnapped, and to notify the families.

“It’s hard to create a picture quickly, who is where,” he says during a phone briefing. “We are trying to be very professional, sensitive, and accurate.”

He add that his office is also pursuing an “operational intelligence effort,” as well as a diplomatic effort to let the world know about the scope of the issue and to bring the international community to Israel’s side.

Hirsch’s office is also seeking to be “the address for the families.”

They have set up a center for the families to receive help in Bnei Brak called “From the Heart” manned by dozens of officers from the rank of major and above who underwent special training this week. The center is being run by former Defense Ministry executive Avi Dadon.

Hirsch has created a team headed by Major General (res.) Meir Kalifi to solve problems that arise for the families.

The families will receive an aid package from the government as well.

“We are trying to get everyone home,” says Hirsch. “We’ve been to dozens of homes. I know we must touch people. I want to hug people personally.”

“The war is just at its beginning,” says Hirsch, echoing messages from top government officials.

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