Relatives of Hamas hostages held in Gaza are visiting Greece in order to raise awareness among the Greek public about the situation of their loved ones.
Galia and Eli David, mother and brother of 22-year-old Eviatar David, and Orit and Aviram Meir, mother and uncle of Almog Meir, were present at the event organized on Sunday night by the Central Jewish Council and the Jewish Community of Athens at the Concert Hall.
Outside the hall where the event took place, 242 chairs were symbolically placed, each of which has a stolen photo on it. The central slogan is “ bring them home”.
“We live 30 days a terrible nightmare”
The families of the hostages described the stories of their relatives, two young children who were at the Supernova music festival that was drowned in blood on October 7 by Hamas gunmen.
“My son went to the festival and didn’t come back,” said an emotional Galia David, mother of 22-year-old Eviatar, who walked out of the event hall when the video of her kidnapped son was shown. As he describes a month later, he cannot see these scenes.
“He was kidnapped while he went to celebrate with joy with life, with happiness. He went to a party, which symbolized solidarity and peace, and he did not come back.”
“He was kidnapped and is being held in Gaza, we don’t know where and all communication with him was cut off,” said his mother. “We are constantly trying in every way to restore even a trace of communication. A crime against humanity has been committed.”
Eli’s brother described how they woke up that morning to the sound of sirens and his mother texted Eviatar directly to see if he was okay. After an hour, communication with him was lost, while 6 hours later the family received two videos sent by Hamas.
He said his brother, who will turn 23 at the end of December, “is one of the calmest people and we believe that even if he is in captivity he can remain calm and help others.”
“Since that moment our lives have changed, we have been living a terrible nightmare for 30 days. We hope that our visit can have some impact and that the Greek community can help,” he noted.
Orit Meir tearfully described the last time she saw her son Almog on October 6, at 11pm when he left with friends for the festival.
She woke up the next morning to a phone call from Almog who described hearing rockets and gunfire everywhere. “I don’t know what’s going on, I’ll pick you up in half an hour, mom I love you,” he told her the last time she heard him. Her daughter Facebooked Almog’s photo and 3 hours later they received a video from someone who recognized him.
“From that moment my world was destroyed,” Orit said. “It’s my whole life, I’m living a nightmare in a different world. I don’t sleep, I just cry and I’m in despair.”
Almog, he said, is a happy man, he can’t sit in a chair for an hour, “I can’t imagine him being in a basement for a month.”
“Since then our life has been a nightmare. But this nightmare is reality. Please help us bring him back with the other hostages.”
Aviram’s uncle reported that within a week all the families of the hostages were organized, united and began to function as a team.
“The way I see it, we will succeed and bring them back. We need your help, but we will bring them back,” he emphasized and called on the whole world to pressure anyone who can help, but also to support the families of the hostages.
Israeli ambassador: “Israel is determined to end the threat of Hamas”
The aim of the event is to raise the strongest possible voice for the release of the hostages held by Hamas, said Israel’s ambassador to Greece Noam Katz.
On October 7, he said, “all of Israel woke up to a nightmare, a murderous attack, a genocide orchestrated by Hamas against us and unfolding before our eyes.”
“Young people, babies, children, women, men were murdered in cold blood, beheaded and burned alive in their homes and at a music festival. 1400 souls lost, over 5,000 injured. 240 Israelis kidnapped by Hamas. They are violently uprooted from their daily lives and are tortured, humiliated, living in absolute fear, a complete hell”.
“It was a massacre and mass kidnapping that was broadcast live by the mass media,” described Israel’s ambassador. “Their voices from that terrible day will haunt us forever.”
Israel, as he pointed out, “is determined to put an end to the threat of Hamas. It is determined to completely dismantle Hamas in Gaza and free the hostages.”
“The families of these hostages, brave in the face of unimaginable despair, came to Greece seeking solidarity and support for their loved ones,” he said, adding: “Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine the anguish, the horror they feel. Imagine someone to violently tear your world apart.”
“They are in the hands of a ruthless, inhumane criminal organization that despises all notions of humanity and international law.”
“It is our collective duty to ensure that their voices are heard and that every possible effort is made to bring the hostages back home”, he noted and underlined that this effort “must know neither borders nor political divisions”.
“We must remain united, unwavering in our determination to bring these people back to their homes,” Mr. Katz noted. “Let us hear the cries of their families, let us work together tirelessly until each of the hostages is safely freed. Let the hostages return to their homes.”
Israeli council president: “Israel is fighting the battle of Western civilization on the field”
“The Jews of the Diaspora, the Jews of Greece, we open our hearts and our arms to welcome you, to support you, to stand by you in this period of unspeakable pain”, said the president of the central of the Israeli Council of Greece and the Israeli community of Thessaloniki, David Saltiel.
He underlined the need for pressure from everyone for the release of the hostages whom, as he said, “we consider our loved ones”.
“Israel is fighting on the field the struggle of Western civilization, the struggle of all of us against terrorism,” he noted. “Terrorism is a threat to the entire civilized world.”
“I see the chairs empty and I motivate myself to turn anger into action, despair into determination, so that we can do everything in our power to bring them back,” he said, adding: “The State of Israel will continue to fight until the terrorists of Hamas are eliminated.”
President of the Israeli community of Athens: “The houses remain deafeningly empty”
“The houses remain deafeningly empty since that black Saturday. Almost a month later and our eyes remain teary,” noted the president of the Israeli community of Athens, Alberto Tarabuloulos.
“Every day we are faced with images of brutality and horrific scenes of violence that the human mind has difficulty comprehending,” he noted, while speaking of “propaganda delusions” and “anti-Semitic rants that sow the seeds of discord again, undermining culturally acquired mutual respect, highlighting how vulnerable and fragile it is the shield of diversity”.
“We remain united and united,” he said. “Even when words run dry, we muster reserves of composure and state the truth of things. The wounds are fresh and open.”
“What we are living is a human aberration that we strongly oppose, organize and stand with the people of Israel.”