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Mothers of Israeli hostages protest on the streets of Tel Aviv

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In Gaza 116 hostages out of 251 captured by Hamas on 7 October last year still remain unaccounted for.


The mothers of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza marched in central Tel Aviv on Friday demanding they are returned immediately.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced backlash from the families of hostages for failing to commit to a ceasefire proposal put forward by the United States, which would bring about the release of those who remain in Gaza.

The Israeli government says a total of 120 people are being held there, as it also includes four people who were taken hostage in 2014 and 2015.

Sylvia Cunio, who is the mother of hostages David and Ariel Cunio, spoke at the demonstration.

“I appeal to you Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr Prime Minister, the deal is here, it is within reach. Please, our mothers’ hearts can’t stand it, our heart is in Gaza, bring us back our heart. Send the negotiating team with one instruction, don’t come back without the deal, because enough, nine months are enough. Bring them back home, now, now, now, all of them now,” she said.

The protest follows similar demonstrations earlier this week, with three major highways blocked on Thursday morning as protesters called for a government election and a hostage release deal.

Renewed hopes for a ceasefire

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said this week he was sending negotiators to resume the stalled cease-fire talks, a day after Hamas handed mediators its latest response to a US-backed proposal for a deal.

The revival of negotiations appeared to mark another attempt by US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators to overcome the gap that has repeatedly thwarted a deal over the past months. 

Hamas wants an agreement that ensures Israeli troops fully leave Gaza and the war ends, while Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is “eliminated”.

Israeli negotiators are expected to arrive in Doha, Qatar’s capital, for the talks as early as Friday, with American, Egyptian and Qatari officials present.

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