Families of Israeli hostages say ‘more needs to be done’ after meeting PM

Families of Israeli hostages say ‘more needs to be done’ after meeting PM

Families of Israeli hostages say more needs to be done after meeting the Prime Minister in London.

The relatives of hostages being held in Gaza landed in the UK on Monday for a three-day visit to raise awareness and call on the Government to put pressure onto leading figures in Qatar – which has helped to mediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas – to do more.

They said Rishi Sunak told them he is “going to do everything he can”, as they called for UK leaders to put pressure on Qatar to “pick a side”.

Ziv Abud told the PA news agency how she had to “hide under bodies” after her nephew and his partner were killed and her boyfriend was kidnapped on October 7.

Ms Abud, 26, fled the Nova party in Re’im with her family after the violence began, and they took shelter with 30 others in front of the Re’im base.

Hamas gunmen arrived and threw grenades into the shelter. Ms Abud’s partner, Eliya Cohen, 26, was shot in the leg.

Ms Abud’s nephew and his partner were killed along with 18 others.

Ms Abud said: “We were in the shelter for half an hour and after this we heard the shooting very, very close, five minutes after they were in our shelter.

“They threw more than nine grenades to the shelter. After they threw the grenades, they start to take people from the shelter.

“They took Eliya and three more people. They put them on a van then they came inside the shelter and start shooting everybody.”

Liran Berman, the brother of twins Ziv and Gali Berman.
Liran Berman, the brother of twins Ziv and Gali Berman (Yui Mok/PA)

She added: “I sat for six hours with their bodies, my nephew’s body in front of my eyes.”

Two weeks later, they saw a video which showed Mr Cohen, and they said they could see he was injured, but nothing is now known about his condition or his whereabouts.

Ms Abud and her friend Michal Rahoom told the Prime Minister what had happened and said Mr Sunak told them he would “do everything that he can to help” – but called for more to be done.

Ms Rahoom said: “He’s doing a lot, he’s going to a lot of meetings. He also been in Israel a couple of days after everything happened.

“So we really appreciate, but we need to do a lot more.”

Ms Abud added that she believes if Qatar wanted, the hostages could be “released tomorrow morning”.

Ziv Abud (left), the girlfriend of 26-year-old Eliya Cohen.
Ziv Abud (left), the girlfriend of 26-year-old Eliya Cohen (Yui Mok/PA)

Eli Albag, father of 18-year-old Liri Albag – who was kidnapped near the border, said it was “very important” for him to meet Mr Sunak and tell him his daughter’s story.

Ms Albag, who lives in Moshav Yarhiv in the centre of Israel and started her career training in the military, was kidnapped “from her bed” near the border with three other women.

He said some of the hostages who were released were with his daughter, and they described the conditions.

Mr Albag said: “They say that they don’t have food, they don’t have water, they don’t take a shower, they’re sleeping on the floor, very cold humidity, 40 metres under the ground.

“And the most important issue, they are touching them.”

There were some pictures taken of her 50 days ago, but no sightings or knowledge about her condition or whereabouts since.

Ziv Abud (right), the girlfriend of 26-year-old Eliya Cohen.
Ziv Abud (right), the girlfriend of 26-year-old Eliya Cohen. (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr Albag has described his family as “broken”, adding: “All our lives have collapsed.”

Mr Albag, who showed the Prime Minster a photo of his daughter, said: “He was very sensitive and inside his heart is like a very warm person. And for me, it’s made me feel more close and that he understands our situation very well.”

Mr Albag said he was told by the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary David Cameron that they will speak to Qatar.

He said: “They will have a meeting with them and they will talk to them and they know everything and David Cameron said that he’s coming to Israel, he will go to Egypt and he will go to Qatar too.”

Liran Berman, brother of 26-year-old twins Ziv and Gali – who were kidnapped from their house in Kfar Aza, showed Mr Sunak a picture of his little brothers and asked the Prime Minister to “keep pushing on the release of the hostages”.

Mr Berman, 36, said: “We know that the Prime Minister is very supportive of the cause of the release of the hostages. He was one of the first prime ministers, officials, to come to Israel after October 7.

“And I asked him to keep pushing on the release of the hostages, to not let it go. Half have been released, some have died, but there are a lot who are still being held captive. So we need his help.”

Mr Berman was two hours away from his brothers and felt “completely helpless” on October 7.

“Around 9.30am or 10am, we lost contact with my brothers,” he added. “We did contact them in the morning, they told us that they are in the safe room, later we found out that they were burning the rooms outside.

“For 10 days we knew nothing about them, they were considered missing, and then 10 days later an official came to us and told us they had been kidnapped and were in Gaza.”

Mr Berman said when hostages were released they told the family they had seen the twins, but they were not together and both had minor injuries.

He said his family are “very tired but very focused” and added that helping to release the hostages is the “mission of their lives”.