Freed hostages, captives’ families to hold special Passover Seder

This Seder is not a celebration, it’s a continuation of the fight for freedom.

By Amelie Botbol, JNS

Five hundred residents of Kibbutz Be’eri plan to take part in a collective Seder in Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square this Passover, in an effort to push for the release of the 133 captives still being held by Hamas in Gaza.

JNS recently spoke to Ella Ben Ami, the daughter of Be’eri resident Ohad Ben Ami, who was kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7.

“It’s a difficult and heavy day,” she told JNS earlier this month at a rally in Jerusalem marking the hostages’ sixth month in captivity.

“We feel time pass, and what I fear is that time is also passing for the hostages in Hamas’s tunnels. It doesn’t stop for a second.”

She’s terrified that her father might not return alive.

Her mother Raz, Ohad’s wife, was also taken captive on Oct. 7, but was released on Nov. 29 after 54 days in captivity as part of a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.

Raz will be attending the Seder at Hostage Square along with other freed hostages Ra’aya and Hila Rotem, Alma and Noam Or, Amit Shani, Emily Hen and Gali Tarchenski.

On Oct. 7, Kibbutz Be’eri was the scene of some of the worst atrocities inflicted by Hamas terrorists on Israel’s southern communities. One hundred people were killed in the attacks and 30 were kidnapped.

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Eleven members of the kibbutz are still being held in Gaza; an additional six are believed to have died in captivity.

“This Seder is not a celebration,” said Or Gat, the sister of captive Carmel Gat, one of 19 women still being held in Gaza.

“On Passover, we mark our return to abandonment and slavery, as we continue our uncompromising fight for freedom.

“We demand the return of our sons and daughters, and will decide our future. We have the will, but right now we cannot be a free people in our own land. We love you and fight for you every moment,” she added.

Be’eri residents will not be spending the holiday in their devastated and evacuated community, but rather scattered across the country in temporary living arrangements.

Last week, families of hostages gathered in Kibbutz Nir Oz’s bullet-riddled dining hall for a mock Seder to demand the return of their loved ones.

The hall contained empty yellow chairs (the color associated with the campaign to free the hostages) bearing pictures of each of the 133 hostages, alongside empty plates and cutlery, similar to the iconic exhibit in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square.

While Israel has shown flexibility in the hope of arriving at a hostage deal, Hamas has impeded an agreement, U.S. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said on Monday.

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“Israel moved a significant way in submitting that proposal,” Miller said of Jerusalem’s most recent proposal. “There was a deal on the table that would achieve much of what Hamas claims it wants to achieve, and they have not taken that deal,” he added.