Bring them Home
It has now been almost a month since the dreadful terrorist attacks on Israel of October 7. At the time of writing, Hamas is still holding around 242 hostages captive in Gaza. The vast majority of these are civilians and the Israeli government believes that 138 of the hostages also hold foreign passports. The truth is that it has been hard to gain clarity on the exact number of hostages or any notion of their condition or whereabouts due to the information vacuum that persists.
While we have rejoiced at the four hostages released, and one hostage rescued, it is awful to consider the deep and pervasive fear that must be being experienced by the many babies, children, adults and elderly that are still being held captive. Hostages include individuals with disabilities, Holocaust survivors and others who have lost family members in the terrorist attacks.
Over this period there has been no visit from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated to check on the conditions of the hostages. The ICRC states that: “While held in captivity, hostages must be allowed to receive humanitarian assistance and medical care. They must be given the opportunity to contact their families. Families separated from their loved ones endure agony no matter what side of the divide they are on. Our commitment to helping people who have been kidnapped, detained, or missing is unyielding.”
The Jewish community understands the importance of keeping the hostages front of mind and of maintaining pressure on the international community to strive for their release. We must ensure that the cry of “Bring them Home!” reverberates around the world.
So too, do the six of Australia’s former Prime Ministers who shared a joint statement this week which included the demand: “We call for the unconditional release of all the hostages taken by Hamas.”
Around Caulfield Park and on power poles throughout suburbs with significant Jewish populations, we see the ubiquitous posters that shout “kidnapped” and provide some brief biographical information. Our community also continues to hold rallies demanding the release of the hostages.
A particularly touching tribute involved the installation of the Balloons of Hope exhibition at Federation Square. This saw red balloons alongside images of the hostages and white balloons which referenced the five who are no longer in captivity.
At The King David School, we have installed an empty shabbat table in the foyer of the Magid Campus which communicates the community’s longing for the hostages to be returned to celebrate Shabbat with their families.
We all pray that no more Shabbatot pass before the hostages are released.
Bring them home!
Am Yisrael Chai and Shabbat Shalom,