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The Gaza hostage drama, a breach in Israel's security pact

Photo: Agence France-Presse The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been punctuated by attacks and hostage-taking of civilians and soldiers which have had a profound impact on Israeli society. In the photo, Palestinians look towards a bombing in a market on April 11, 2024.

Fiachra Gibbons – Agence France-Presse in Jerusalem


  • Middle East

“I can’t live here if I don’t have confidence in my army and my government. » For Einat Avni Levi, as for many Israelis, freeing the Gaza hostages is part of the moral contract between the state and its citizens.

In Kibbutz Nirim where the 40-year-old woman lived, five residents were killed and five others were kidnapped during the bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in southern Israel on October 7 . Two are still being held in Gaza.

Six months later, a majority of Israelis believe their government has not done enough to free the 129 hostages still held captive in Gaza, according to a poll conducted last week by Israeli channel 12.

In Ms. Levi's eyes, this endless tragedy has broken something fundamental, a “bond” between the Israeli state and its people.

“I can't live here if I don't trust my army and my government to come and get me” if I'm kidnapped, she observes.

“Sacred” duty

For almost a week, a truce proposal including an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners has been examined by Hamas officials and the Israeli side. No encouraging progress to date.

The families of hostages will demonstrate again on Saturday evening in Tel Aviv to demand their release.

The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been punctuated by attacks and hostage-taking of civilians and soldiers which have had a profound impact on Israeli society.

“Growing up and serving in the army, I always knew that everything would be done to get me back,” explains Shimon Attal, met at a rally in support of Gaza captives.

“And that’s how you feel safe,” observes this computer programmer.

Will the massive hostage taking of October 7 mark a turning point ?

For Rabbi Benny Lau, a figure in modern Orthodox Judaism, there exists in Israel “a pact between the state and the citizens according to which no one will be abandoned. You have the certainty that your leaders will do their utmost to bring you back,” he explains to Agence France-Presse.

This principle is even “sacred”, he believes. “The idea of ​​preserving life is so strong that it is written in the Bible many times,” observes Mr. Lau.

Not at all costs

The head of the Israeli army, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, speaks of a “moral obligation”, affirming that Israel is ready to “pay the price for the return of its sons and his daughters.”

To the point that in 2011, Benjamin Netanyahu, already prime minister, exchanged 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for the only Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a concession considered exorbitant by some.

Today Mr. Netanyahu is accused of having “abandoned” the Gaza hostages.

Only with their return can “the contract” between citizens and the state be “renewed,” argues Carmit Palty Katzir, the sister of hostage Elad Katzir, whose body was found last week.

One of the prisoners released almost 15 years ago in exchange for Gilad Shalit is the current Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinouar, believed to be the mastermind of the October 7 attack.

A painful reminder for Tzvika Mor, whose eldest, Eitan, is detained by Hamas in Gaza: “We do not want the hostages to be released at any cost,” assures this father of eight children.

“It is not about the life of my son, but about the existence of the Jewish state […] we are in great danger,” said Mr. Mor, who founded the Tikvah group, made up of families from more conservative hostages.

He himself assures that he would prefer to sacrifice his son rather than see him exchanged for a Palestinian prisoner. Eitan, 23, was a security guard at the Tribe of Nova electro music festival, where 364 people were massacred.

He always said “don't do a prisoner exchange for me”, assures his father. “I hope he hasn’t changed his mind. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116