Families of individuals missing and kidnapped by Hamas during the October 7 attack are undertaking a poignant march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, demanding government assurances for the safe return of their loved ones. The emotional journey, which commenced three days ago in Tel Aviv, has brought together a large crowd, walking along a highway toward Jerusalem, as captured by Reuters video footage. Participants in the march are holding signs displaying pictures of the missing individuals, accompanied by the plea, "Bring them home now."
Shelly Shem Tov, a distressed mother whose son was abducted by Hamas, spoke to CNN about the ordeal. She emphasized that the group is en route to Jerusalem to implore the government to "bring our families back home safely, alive." Shem Tov expressed the agony of the families, stating, "This is the situation. We are 42 days from October 7. We don’t know anything about our families. I don’t know anything about my son, if he is okay." She underscored the lack of communication from the Israeli government since being informed of her son's kidnapping, describing the past 42 days as a "nightmare."
As of 9 a.m. Eastern Time, the march has reached Sho'eva, Israel, as indicated by a map posted by the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum.
In a backdrop to this distressing situation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported on Friday that the military's official estimate of hostages being held in Gaza stands at 237. The IDF acknowledged that this number may fluctuate based on updated intelligence.
Adding a layer of complexity, a senior U.S. official familiar with the talks disclosed to CNN on Tuesday that Israel and Hamas are approaching a potential deal to secure the release of hostages. The deal would hinge on a sustained, days-long pause in fighting. The official cautioned that while progress has been made, the talks remain volatile and could still break down. The official stated, "It’s closer but it’s not done."
The families' march and the ongoing negotiations underscore the high-stakes and emotional toll of the situation, with the hope that a resolution can be reached to reunite the hostages with their families.