Son of dead hostage demands no soldiers be put in danger to retrieve father’s body

Rani Metzger, son of Yoram Metzger, 80, calls on Netanyahu to make returning living hostages his first priority; ‘Israel will be ashamed forever’ if not, he says

Yoram Metzger was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz. (Courtesy)
Yoram Metzger was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz. (Courtesy)

The son of an Israeli hostage who was announced on Monday to have died in the captivity of the Hamas terror group in Gaza demanded on Tuesday that Israel not place any soldiers in danger to retrieve his father’s body.

“We don’t risk people’s lives for a body,” said Rani Metzger — the son of Yoram Metzger, who died in Hamas captivity at age 80 after being kidnapped from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 — on behalf of the family. “We want the army to return his body, but we are not prepared, in any way, shape, or form, to put soldiers in danger.

“We said this to those making decisions, [and] we expect that they will stand by it,” Metzger told Channel 12 in an interview, noting, “We understand that there are other families who maybe want other things.”

Yoram’s widow Tami Metzger, 78, who was kidnapped along with her husband, was released in November during a week-long ceasefire that saw the release of 105 civilian hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

“Unfortunately for us, the exchange did not continue,” Rani said of that truce. “Whoever made the decision to stop the exchange, it could very well be that they caused my father not to return. It was possible to save many people.”

It is believed that 120 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — though dozens are thought to be dead. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

Screen capture from undated propaganda video released by the Hamas terror group on December 18, 2023 shows (L-R) Amiram Cooper, Chaim Peri, and Yoram Metzger, three Israelis held hostage since October 7 in the Gaza Strip. (X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israel confirmed the deaths of Metzger and three other hostages— Chaim Peri, 79, Amiram Cooper, 84, and Nadav Popplewell, 51, on Monday, citing new intelligence findings.

“We estimate that the four were killed together, in the Khan Younis area, several months ago, while being held by Hamas terrorists and while IDF forces were operating in Khan Younis,” said IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

In December, Hamas published a video showing Peri, Cooper, and Metzger alive, and in March the terror group claimed that the three were killed by Israeli strikes. In May, apparently weeks after he had been killed, Hamas released a coerced propaganda clip featuring Popplewell.

Asked about the circumstances of his father’s death, Metzger said that they “certainly interest us. It’s important to us to know what happened to Dad, up to the last moment.”

Rani Metzger, whose father Yoram, 80, was killed in Hamas captivity, appears on Israeli television the morning after the announcement of his father’s death. June 4, 2024. (Screenshot via N12)

Metzger said he does not blame the military for his father’s death: “I have no anger toward the army. It’s not so relevant, or important to me, whether it happened in these circumstances or those ones. Hamas kidnapped my dad from his home, murdered him, holds his body. There is no Israeli side of this story.”

But, Metzger said, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the hostages’ return. “My father and his friends lived at least four months,” he said. “It was possible to save them, it was possible to bring them back. Whoever chooses the goal of the war over the goal of [returning] the hostages, the result is very simple: they will die.

“I heard someone express this,” Metzger recounted. “They said, ‘It’s not terrible, the number of hostages today is like a collision between two buses.”

Metzger, whose family is actively involved in the protest movement to pressure the government to agree to a hostage deal with Hamas, rejected assertions that the movement is political: “There’s no politics here, there is great pain,” he said.

“How can someone paint this as political? There is the prime minister, he is the address. We are angry at him when he doesn’t do anything, we are angry at him when he sabotages the issue. But we are 100 percent behind him if he does a deal. If he does a deal, we will support him. So there’s no politics here.”

Einav Zangauker holds a sign of her son Matan (24), one of the hostages taken captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip during the October 7 massacre, during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on June 3, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Asked what message he had for Israelis, Metzger said: “Go back to being Jews. Go back to being the nation of Israel. Go back to supporting these hurting people, whole communities that were destroyed, the families of the hostages. Stop cursing at us on the streets. It’s unacceptable, it’s inappropriate.

“Don’t stand back,” he added. “Young girls are being raped in captivity. Soldiers are being tortured. Elderly people are going through indescribable suffering, in hell. We cannot abandon them.

“If we don’t return them all, down to the last one, Israel will be ashamed forever,” he said. “Go to the streets, demand of the government that they achieve this goal. The prime minister needs you behind him. He is under threats by ministers in his government.

Netanyahu is facing pressure from the international community and some inside of Israel to work to approve a deal with Hamas, under which Israel would agree to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the terror group returning remaining hostages.

Far-right members of his coalition have threatened to topple the government if such a deal goes through.

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