Families of Israeli hostages desperately seek their return

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(NEW YORK) — For three Israelis who have been waiting two months for the safe return of their families from Hamas captivity, this year’s Hannukah celebrations have been anything but joyful.

Hamas freed over 100 of the more than 200 people its militants took hostage during the Oct. 7 surprise terror attack on Israel.

In exchange, Israel released more than 200 Palestinians from Israeli prisons, the majority of whom were women and minors.

Still, there are at least 135 hostages still held by Hamas, and no immediate indications that more will be released.

“There [are] a kind of small moments of let’s say happiness and assurance that everything can happen and we can bring everyone home back because some of them got back, But besides that, it’s really horrible, horrific,” Or Gat, whose brother Carmel Gat is still held by Hamas, told ABC News.

Adva Adar is one of the many who were able to reunite with their loved ones after the terror group released them. Her grandmother Yaffa Adar was freed by Hamas during the cease-fire and later released from the hospital.

Even though Yaffa Adar is back home, Adva Adar said she is even more worried about those still in captivity, including another one of her relatives, based on what her grandmother experienced.

“It was very hard both physically and mentally and she survived hell,” Adva Adar said. “I really think that we should take everyone back home now. We have no time. They have no time.”

Gat expressed frustration with the Israeli government that they are not doing enough to free their families.

“We are feeling that we should do the negotiations. We should take care of our families because it’s not happening otherwise,” he said.

Adva Adar, whose relative Tamir Adar is also a hostage, agreed.

“I really believe that the Israeli government and the international community have to demand nothing else but the return of each and every one of the hostages,” she said.

As the three try to navigate through the holiday season, they are painfully aware they are without their loved ones and why.

“Right now, I don’t feel like it’s a special time when they’re going through Holocaust,” Ephrat Mor Carmel, relative of Omer Wenkert who is still held by Hamas, said. “I think this is the way to describe what they are going through: Holocaust.”

Gat said they are trying to find ways to find hope and light during the dark times.

“We’re not going to get out of it soon, but maybe we can start, you know, to try to heal the wound,” Gat said, but that is once the hostages are released alive and well. For now, he says “… we’re still in this Holocaust.”

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