‘What if they were your kids?’: Freed hostage pleads with PM to secure release of remaining abductees

Freed hostage Moran Stela Yanai, 40, gives a televised address on behalf of the families of hostages, calling for their release, February 15, 2024. (Screenshot/Channel 12)
Freed hostage Moran Stela Yanai, 40, gives a televised address on behalf of the families of hostages, calling for their release, February 15, 2024. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

Moran Stela Yanai, a former hostage in Gaza who was freed in late November, pleads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate the release of the remaining hostages in the Palestinian enclave.

She recalls that her time as a hostage for 54 days “felt like years of hell,” and she was freed “one moment before losing all hope.”

“I was there. I still remember the smell, the fear, the terror… I went through hell, now they are going through hell, our brothers, our kids, our parents,” she says in a televised address on behalf of the families of hostages, noting the “shortage of food, water, sleep” and other basic needs.

The statement comes as Netanyahu has ruled out sending an Israeli delegation for further hostage negotiations in Cairo.

“I can’t think of the people who were left behind and are there double the amount of time I spent in captivity,” she says.

“These are our kids, our parents, our lives. Today it’s us, tomorrow it can be any one of you,” she says, struggling to maintain her composure.

“What if they were your kids, your parents? What would you do?” she pleads.

Yanai says she thinks about the hostages constantly, especially the women, whom she says are going through physical and mental torture. “They are destroying their beautiful souls!” she says.

“This is your moment, cabinet members and prime minister… How is it possible that we have an opportunity to end this suffering and… Israel is refusing to send representatives to the negotiating table in Cairo” to negotiate a “release of everyone?”

“If it doesn’t happen now, who knows when the next opportunity will arise,” she adds.

Addressing Netanyahu directly, she says: “The country is behind us, I can feel it. But I need you, I need to feel that you, too, are behind us. This is the time to act,” she says.

“They don’t have time. Please bring them home now!”

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