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'Please wake up': Families of Israeli victims urge world to stand against Islamist violence

'Please wake up': Families of Israeli victims urge world to stand against Islamist violence
Adar Eylon shows a picture of her sister Shira, killed during a violent incursion by Hamas militants from Gaza, in Israel, flanked by her father Avi Eylon, during an interview with Reuters, after holding talks with Italian authorities in Rome, Italy, Oct 25, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters

ROME — The world must take a stand against Islamist violence to avoid it spreading and take action to ensure the swift release of hostages taken by Hamas militants after their Oct 7 attack on southern Israel, families of victims said on Wednesday (Oct 25).

A delegation of relatives visited Rome to hold talks with authorities, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, as part of a campaign to bolster world efforts to free the more than 200 people taken captive.

The group included Avi Eylon, whose 23-year-old daughter, Shira, was killed with a friend while attending a music festival.

Sitting with Shira's sister, Adar, at a hotel in the Italian capital, he said it was too late for his family but the hostages had to come home.

"Please wake up. To the people in the world, to the people in Europe, please wake up, because this is not a land conflict, this is a religious conflict," he told Reuters, saying the reason why Hamas murdered his daughter was that she was Jewish.

Some 222 people were taken hostage after the attack on southern Israel in which 1,400 people were killed. Hamas on Monday freed two Israeli civilian women following the release of two hostages with dual US-Israeli nationality on Friday.

Health officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said more than 6,500 people have been killed since Israel began its bombing campaign in response.

Three people with dual Italian-Israeli citizenship were killed in the Oct 7 Hamas attack, including Eviatar Moshe Kipnis and his wife, Lilian Le Havron, who were both in the Beeri kibbutz, one of the main targets.

Their son, Nadav, who also lost his uncle in the attack, came to Italy to demand action to free all the hostages who include several members of his family.

"These people are just civilians who did not deserve any of these traumatic events that happened to them, which are comparable only to the Holocaust," he said.

"Israel itself can only deal with Hamas as a terrorist organisation, but [Israel] cannot negotiate with them," he told Reuters, saying states such as Qatar and Egypt would be in the position to put pressure on Hamas to release the hostages.

He said it was sad that some demonstrators who took to the streets in Europe in support of Palestine were in favour of Hamas, when Islamist violence was again hitting France and Belgium.

"The narrative that Hamas are fighting for freedom is just false," he said. "Hamas are fighting other religions."

ALSO READ: Israel's Holocaust survivors struggle with Gaza war as trauma deepens

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