This week, families of Israeli hostages still in captivity in Gaza spoke with media at the state legislature. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, met with members of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum and the Consul General of Israel, Anat Sultan-Dadon.
“This today is not about geopolitics or anything like that,” said Moore as he opened the press conference.. This is about really getting the word out about these families and these hostages who need to be released.”
Speaker Moore was joined by Rep. Steve Ross, R-Alamance, and Rep. Erin Paré, R-Wake.
“It’s so important for us to be here and to use our voices to get out these stories to everyday Americans so they can keep atop of mind how important it is to advocate on behalf of these families and use our voices and our positions to be able to advocate as strongly as possible for the return of these hostages and a positive outcome,” said Paré.
Moshe Lavi spoke on behalf of his brother-in-law Omri Miran, 46, who remains a hostage.
“This October 7th was the most monstrous attack we could have imagined. A culmination of decades long attacks by Hamas, as we all here grew up to terrorist attacks on us and our families, and rocket missiles on our communities,” said Lavi.
Omri met Lavi’s sister in March 2020.
“When the world froze their hearts opened and their love blossomed, amid a pandemic,” said Lavi. Omri and his wife a built a home together and have two daughters, one 2 and a half the other 9 months.
“He heals plants in the morning and people in the evening in his clinic,” said Lavi. “He loves sports, he loves reading of literature…he is a spiritual man connected to nature and to the Israeli landscape. We can’t wait to have him back with us.”
Lavi told reporters that on October 7th, at 6:29 am Omri was awakened by the sound of sirens along with his wife and their two daughters.
“Around 4 hours after the attacks started, we lost contact with them,” said Lavi.
According to Lavi, a teenage boy outside his brother’s door begged them to open the door or he would be shot by Hamas terrorists. The boy was used by Hamas so they would open the door. The terrorists ravaged the house, and the 17-year-old boy was later executed by Hamas. The family was held at gunpoint for hours, abused, and watching as their home was destroyed. Around 1:30 pm Omri was handcuffed and taken by Hamas terrorists. His family hasn’t heard from his since.
“This is beyond politics, beyond the toxic battle ground that we see on the street and on social media between hateful people,” said Lavi. “This is a humanitarian issue, a multinational issue and multi-faith issue. Hostages of all ethnicities, nationalities, and religions are held captive and gunpoint by a terrorist organization that has no regard to human life, human dignity. They attacked humanity on October 7th and they committed to attack humanity over and over again, unless they’ll be stopped.”
Yair Moses also spoke on behalf of his father, Gadi Moses, another hostage taken on October 7th.
“My father is a man of people and land,” said Moses.
Moses said that for the last sixty years his father has worked in the fields and for the last thirty years he has traveled around the world to developing countries and teaching them about irrigation, about understanding the soil, and how to have better agriculture. He believes that people should be be able to support themselves and grow enough production land to have a better life.
“He believes this is the right thing to do,” said Moses. “This is the human thing to do… But on October 7th, his world and our world collapsed.”
As soon as he knew that his house had been entered, he left the safe room to protect his family.
“This is the person he is. He puts himself in front of others.” Gadi was taken and his brother managed to send a message that he was taken by terrorists.”
Moses said that on December 19th, Islamic Jihad released a video in which Gadi Moses was seen looking thin and as if he has aged ten years. That is the only time the family has heard from or seen him since he was taken captive.
“The only human thing is to bring them home; it isn’t related to politics, it isn’t related to anything else,” said Yair Moses, who has vowed not to shave until his whole family is returned from Gaza.
Yair Totem gives a first-hand account of the October 7th attack.
“On October 7th I woke about 6:30 am to the sound of bombings; it was rockets fired from Gaza intercepted by Israeli Irone Dome missiles,” he told reporters.
Totem said had to stay in the safe room and until they received an announcement from IDF to stay in the safe room because conflict was escalating and terrorists started to massacre the population, burn houses, murder people and kidnap people.
“Slowly, we started to understand that hundreds of terrorists had made their way to our kibbutz,” said Totem. “I was locked in my house, but I could see hundreds of thousands of messages in the WhatsApp groups saying: ‘please help me,’ ‘my house is on fire,’ ‘they murdered my neighbor,’ ‘I hear screams from the other room,’ these messages are repeating themselves. After two hours it is silent, and you realize the person inside the burning house is probably dead or kidnapped.”
Moore told reporter that he brought the delegation to the legislature to share their personal stories. They presented Speaker Moore with a gift, a dog tag with the engraving “Our Heart Is Still Kidnapped in Gaza.”
“I think I speak for a lot of folks when I say that this state overwhelmingly supports Israel and are praying for peace and are praying for your families to be reunited safely soon,” said Moore as he closed the briefing. “Just know that you all will continue to remain in those thoughts and prayers in demanding that our country do the right thing and stand with Israel.”
One of the hostages is a citizen of both Israel and the US and North Carolina resident, however the identity is not being revealed for the sake of his family.
“I think sometimes when we look at conflicts around the world we think of just military, soldiers, that kind of thing, but we are talking about families that are mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers and children of all ages that get caught up in these conflicts and that’s what we have here,” said Ross. “That’s why I think it’s extremely important to give all the support that we can to the families of our brothers and sisters in Israel. It is our hope that with enough support from around the globe we can get a speedy resolution to have these families reunited.”
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