The heartbreaking cry from the families of hostages held by Hamas: “We have had no life since October 7. We are tired, it’s too long”

The heartbreaking cry from the families of hostages held by Hamas: “We have had no life since October 7. We are tired, it’s too long”
The heartbreaking cry from the families of hostages held by Hamas: “We have had no life since October 7. We are tired, it’s too long”

The war in the Middle East rages. News is transmitted at lightning speed on news sites, sent back to social networks and sometimes exploited. Difficult because of this frantic race for the ultimate truth to give a human face to the tragic losses and traumas located on both “camps”. Israelis have also suffered since October 7. As we saw at the beginning of the week, when members of the families of four hostages – Bar Kuperstein (22 years old), Ofer Kalderon (53 years old), Noa Argamani (26 years old) and Shay Levinson (19 years old) – were came to testify in Brussels. They met with European leaders, including Germans and Hungarians. They recounted the horror experienced on October 7 but also the pain linked to endless waiting. The goal: for these leaders to put as much pressure as possible on Hamas and on the allied countries with which the terrorist movement, author of the October 7 attacks which caused the death of 1,200 people, maintains links. “We must make Bar’s voice heard and those of those who cannot speak”, begins Mazy Zafrani, Bar Kuperstein’s aunt.

In its murderous madness, Hamas kidnapped 254 civilians. To date, 125 people are still held hostage in Gaza. The witnesses we met draw up a bitter observation: the hostages are relegated to the oblivion of a recent history. “People get used to it after eight monthsnotes Sharon Kalderon, Ofer’s sister-in-law. The only thing we can do is speak, so that Ofer is remembered, so that he is not forgotten.”

“People forget the hostages”abounds Cochav William Levinson, Shay’s father.

This Wednesday, it will be 235 days that the hostages have been held captive. That’s almost eight months of unfathomable pain: are they still alive? Only the family of Shay Levinson, who also had German citizenship, unfortunately knows what to expect: the young sportsman, who played volleyball in a team made up of Arabs and firmly believed in coexistence (a film moreover was made by friends two years ago and is visible on YouTube), was killed while he was on duty. “I miss him, of course, but I am very proud of my son, who, through his actions, prevented terrorists from doing even more damage”explains Cochav William Levinson, who had the pleasant surprise of seeing an entire Arab village come to pay their respects during the ceremony for his son.

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The only wish of Noa’s mother before dying is to see her, even if only for an hour, to give her a hug.

No one denies the suffering of the Palestinians, since the strong response of the Israeli army whose goal is to bring back every hostage and eradicate Hamas. A terrorist movement which does not think of protecting its population and even takes shelter behind it. But we must not hide the pain of the hostages and their families. The testimony of Noa Argamani’s aunt is edifying in this regard. “His mother suffers from a tumor whose outcome is knownsays Yaffa Ohad. Her only wish is to be able to see her only daughter again for just an hour, to give her a hug, before she dies.”

Every member of a hostage’s family wonders if they will ever see their loved one again. “Bar has been helping his family financially since his dad’s accident and was working as a guard on October 7 at the Nova festivaldevelops Mazy Zafrani. He told us not to worry. With his Jeep, he made 4 round trips between the Nova festival and a kibbutz which was “safe”. He is a nurse who only thinks about helping others. We saw it on a video released by Hamas. But who takes care of him now?”

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Ofer’s children were released. But relief gave way to anxiety.

A survivor of October 7 herself (she had to lock herself in a shelter for 34 hours while terrorists were in her house), Sharon Kalderon travels the world with her husband to share her experiences and those of her family. “Two children from Ofer released after 52 daysshe explains. For a few hours we were relieved. Then, they started talking and recounting the horrors they suffered, which we were not necessarily aware of. Relief gave way to anxiety. If the children are physically well, mentally, it’s a whole different story.”

Cochav William Levinson believes in a common future: “Shay was a peace activist. We must live together. I don’t wake up in the morning and say I want to kill every Arab I meet.”

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I don’t wake up in the morning and say that I want to kill every Arab I meet.

Fatigue is felt in the voices. Witnesses always think of their loved ones. And while they hope for the best, they also plan for the worst. “We haven’t had a life since October 7th. We’re tired, it’s too longbreathes Sharon Kalderon. It’s been almost eight months. And nine months, we know what that means (Editor’s note: she refers to young women in captivity, who may have become pregnant following the rapes they suffered).”

Talking about the hostages, putting them on the world’s agenda: this is the mission of the families. “Israel is a democratic country, which must do everything to find its childrenexplains Cochav William Levinson. No country has the moral right to tell us to stop. If the terrorists release the hostages, this war is over. (He shows the posters) Hamas reduced the hostages to cards. This game must stop. And that, without conditions!”

The families are calling on the Israeli government to reach an agreement that will allow them to see their loved ones again and put an end to the conflagration in the Middle East. “As long as Ofer is not here, it is not possible to envisage the future”, explains Sharon Kalderon. Her husband and brother Ofer agrees, while issuing a warning: “We have to bring him back. Hamas are monsters; it can happen anywhere.”

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Dead or alive, everyone must go home. No one can be healed until everyone goes home.

The witnesses are convinced: what they are experiencing is the prelude to a future that is far from radiant. “What is happening is at the gates of Europe”, argues Sharon Kalderon. “We share, in Israel, the same values ​​as in Europeassures Cochav William Levinson. Our enemies are not democratic. We are, in a way, the shield. If we break, it will be Europe’s turn.”

As best they can, families are holding on and hope to find their loved ones as quickly as possible. While telling their stories to anyone who will listen. “We can’t forgetconcludes Sharon Kalderon. Dead or alive, everyone must go home. No one can be healed until everyone goes home.”

Survivor of the Nova festival on October 7, Laura Blajman-Kadar testifies: “I prayed to die. I prayed that it would end quickly”

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