Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

‘Give us back our loved ones’, say families of hostages held by Hamas

People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza (Lucy North/PA)
People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza (Lucy North/PA)

The families of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas have called for all parties to act fast to “bring our loved ones home”.

Thousands of people marched from Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, to Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, on Sunday to demand the immediate release of hostages held in Gaza.

A total of 121 people remain unaccounted for after being kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 last year. At least 37 of them are presumed dead.

According to Israel, 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken during the attacks.

Osnat and Menachem Getz are the auntie and uncle of Omer Neutra, a 22-year-old tank commander from in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) who was taken by Hamas.

Osnat told the PA news agency: “Omer was born and raised in Long Island, New York, but has dual citizenship with Israel. When he finished high school he decided to have a gap year and came to Israel to learn about his family routes.

“He became very friendly with his peers and decided it was his obligation to do service in the army and became a tank commander.

“On October 7 he was on the border defending a kibbutz and villages. Unfortunately he found himself being attacked and then Hamas released a video showing Omer and his group being taken hostage.

“Since that day, we have heard nothing. There has been no sign of Omer. It’s devastating and no family should go through such horrible days.”

People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza
People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza (Lucy North/PA)

President Joe Biden has urged Israel and Hamas to reach an agreement to release about 100 remaining hostages, along with the bodies of around 30 more, for an extended ceasefire.

Talks stopped last month after a push by the US and other mediators to secure a deal in the hope of averting a full-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. Israel says the Rafah operation is key to uprooting Hamas fighters responsible for the October 7 attack.

But the families have warned time is running out for their loved ones.

Osnat said: “We still have hope. But every day is crucial, every day is critical.

“Every day we hear about another hostage killed by Hamas, and there is no time.

“We need countries to unit and pressure Hamas to say yes to a deal and bring our beloved ones back home as soon as possible.”

Menachem added: “(World leaders) must be brave. They must be strong and get a deal done. Finish it.

“Don’t forget Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It is not a democratic country. So we need all countries to put immense pressure on them. Everybody needs to take part, not just the US administration, to put their own pressure and putting this pressure will resolve this issue.

“We are family. We need our beloved ones back home. We are not politicians. But we really believe that this is the primary aim for all the region.”

The rally on Sunday was organised by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum UK. People had travelled from as far as Australia and the US to attend, with speakers including the families of hostages, Lord Polak CBE, a member of the House of Lords, and Professor Daniel Shek, Ambassador and veteran of the Israeli foreign service.

People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza
People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza (Lucy North/PA)

Also in attendance were Merav and Amir Daniel, whose 19-year-old son, Oz, was a member of the IDF and killed on October 7.

But the family had initially believed he had been taken hostage and only found out about his death four and a half months after the attacks.

Amir told the PA news agency: “Oz was abducted from Israeli territory while defending southern communities. He did not commit any wrongdoing against civilian population or innocent individuals.

“After four and a half months of hope, we received the worst news of all. Oz was shot to death by the terrorists on October 7.”

The couple said they had seen Oz alive on a video shared by Hamas. They held onto the hope that he would be returned safely for 142 days.

Amir said: “It’s not easy for us. It’s very hard for us to travel the world and to speak to people. But we cannot just sit at home and cry.

“It is very important to us and for all the world, not just Israelis and Jewish people, because Hamas and all the terrorist activities in the world want to be in every place. They are not only against Israelis and Jewish. They are against all democracies.”

Three months after his death, the family said are still yet to get Oz’s body back.

Amir added: “We ask the whole world to return our Oz, our son, with the other hostages.

Israel-Hamas conflict
People take part during a Bring Hostages Home event in central London, to demand the immediate release of Israeli hostages from Gaza (Lucy North/PA)

“Oz has a twin sister, Hadar, and they are the fruit of our love. Now they are divided. One part in Israel and one part in Gaza.

“We need our son to be returned so that they can be united again. We are not political people and we do not deal with politics. The issue of the hostages and their immediate and unconditional release is not a political matter, but a humanitarian matter that should concern every human being around the world.

“We are almost eight months away from the barbaric and unprovoked attack on Israel by Hamas. We will not rest until all hostages are returned back home. That is the main issue. The first thing everyone has to do, including (Benjamin) Netanyahu, is to bring his children home.

“The time is critical. The hostages have no time left. Bring them home.”

Hamas’ attack on October 7 killed around 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250.

More than 36,370 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israel’s campaign of bombardment and offensives, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Following the rally on Sunday, the Metropolitan Police confirmed they had arrested one person for common assault.

An altercation between a passer-by and member of the public resulted in a bottle being thrown towards the group.

Nobody was injured during the incident.