Thousands march for return of Hamas hostages

People holding banners, placards and images of hostages at the United We Bring Them Home march in London
The UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was among attendees at the event on Sunday [PA Media]

Thousands of people have marched through London to ask for hostages being held by Hamas to be brought home.

The 'United We Bring Them Home' march on Sunday began at Lincoln's Inn Fields in Holborn and ended in Whitehall, central London.

Families of Israeli hostages who attended on Sunday called for all parties in the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict to act fast to "bring our loved ones home".

The event was organised by Hostages and Missing Families Forum UK and was also attended by a variety of organisations.

A total of 121 people remain unaccounted for after being kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October, with least 37 of them presumed dead.

Speakers at the event included hostages' families, honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel Lord Polak CBE, and Professor Daniel Shek, former Israeli ambassador to France.

The UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis also attended.

Thousands of people march with Israeli flags, placards and images of hostages
Following the 7 October Hamas attacks, around 252 people were taken back to Gaza as hostages [PA Media]

People travelled from as far as Australia and the US to go to the march.

Omer Neutra, a 22-year-old tank commander in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), was taken by Hamas and his uncle and aunt Osnat and Menachem Getz were in London for the event.

Mr Getz said Omer has dual American-Israeli citizenship, and when he finished high school he took a gap year trip in Israel to "learn about his family routes", later deciding "it was his obligation to do service in the army" and join the IDF.

"Hamas released a video showing Omer and his group being taken hostage," he added.

"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."

Although US President Joe Biden has urged Israel and Hamas to reach a ceasefire and hostage exchange agreement, the family said time is running out.

Mr Getz said: "We still have hope. But every day is crucial, every day is critical."

Attendees hold up images of hostages and placards for the Women's International Zionist Organisation (WIZO)
Attendees held up images of hostages and placards for the Women's International Zionist Organisation (WIZO) [PA Media]

Merav and Amir Daniel's son, Oz, 19, was also a member of the IDF and was killed on 7 October.

They said they initially believed he was taken hostage and only found out about his death four and a half months after the attacks.

Mr Daniel said: "It's very hard for us to travel the world and to speak to people. But we cannot just sit at home and cry."

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

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

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

More than 36,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The war began in October when Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 back to Gaza as hostages.

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