The Government Must Act Immediately to Bring Back All Hostages

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Zulat urges the Israeli government to prioritize the immediate return of Israeli civilians kidnapped by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to act with utmost urgency to ensure their safety.

In an appalling savage attack initiated by Hamas on Israel on the morning of Saturday, 7 October 2023, at least 1,227 lives were brutally taken – encompassing Israeli civilians, security forces personnel, residents, and foreign nationals. In the despicably cruel surprise assault, which intentionally aimed at civilians – manifesting as both a brutal barbaric raid on communities in the Gaza Envelope and indiscriminate rocket fire – the Israeli populace was left deeply traumatized and aggrieved. Further amplifying this heinous act of aggression, Hamas perpetrated another egregious war crime by kidnapping around 200 individuals, ranging from infants to the elderly, both women and men, into the Gaza Strip.

The hostages and the missing persons fall under the categories of ‘deprivation of liberty’ and ‘enforced disappearance,’ which are recognized as war crimes and even crimes against humanity in accordance with customary international law. The crime of enforced disappearance is notably detailed in the International Convention for the Protection against Enforced Disappearance (2006). This is further underscored by the UN Declaration dated 18.12.1992 (A/RES/47/133) and embodied within the Rome Statute. Furthermore, the proscription against unlawful detention is enshrined in the Geneva Conventions and their associated protocols.

Ten days since this heinous act took place, almost no information was disclosed regarding the well-being of the abducted individuals, their captivity conditions, whereabouts, and health status. This lack of disclosure could be attributed to Hamas’ reluctance to admit to the potential severe injuries they inflicted upon some hostages. There were even threats from Hamas about executing the hostages. Furthermore, Hamas horrifically and maliciously documented certain abductions, exploiting them in the most sinister manner to instill sheer terror among the hostages’ families and throughout the entire Israeli populace. The content of some of these records gives rise to grave apprehensions about maltreatment and torture, acts recognized as violations of international law and classified as crimes against humanity.

Concurrently, from the onset of the conflict, Israel has retaliated with intensive airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, impacting its electricity and water supply, which invariably affects its civilian residents. Such actions heighten concerns regarding the well-being of the Israeli hostages. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s statement early in the war, pressing for “merciless offensive actions against Hamas, with a brazen disregard for the dire circumstances of the hostages”. is utterly reprehensible and intolerable.

While Hamas is obliged to release the hostages, Israel has a paramount responsibility to safeguard the lives of its citizens. The fundamental right to life and security of those taken from Israel should not be overshadowed by other considerations. Recent statements from the government raise concerns about its commitment to prioritizing the immediate release of the hostages and facilitating negotiations. Specifically, Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of the National Security Council, stated in a press briefing that “there would be no negotiations concerning the hostages with an adversary we aim to eliminate”. Additionally, indicating the government’s priorities, it’s noteworthy that Prime Minister Netanyahu had a meeting with the hostages’ families only on 15 October 2023, a full nine days after their abduction.

The fundamental right to life for hostages must be the cornerstone of any policy related to their safe return. Leaving babies, the elderly, women, and people with disabilities in the hands of a terror organization known for its cruel treatment of civilians is not only inhumane but morally indefensible. Such a situation also poses a significant threat to the cohesion of Israeli society. Already, there have been efforts to quell public protests by the hostages’ families and others advocating for their return, whether these efforts come from individuals or the police. As more videos from Hamas surface, featuring kidnapped Israelis pleading for their freedom, public attention on this issue is bound to intensify. The government must unequivocally demonstrate that the safe return of the hostages is its utmost priority and must steer clear of any remarks that may exacerbate societal divisions on this matter.

Zulat urgently demands the government act swiftly to broker an agreement ensuring the immediate return of all hostages. Concurrently, the Israeli government must take immediate actions to guarantee the hostages’ safety and security and advocate for establishing a humanitarian corridor, enabling international aid organizations to access them. This represents a fundamental and essential initial measure pending their release.


Translation from hebrew: Moran Yellin



Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.