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A mother's plea: Meirav Leshem Gonen urges UN to help release hostages

Meirav Leshem Gonen speaking at a session of the UN Human Rights Council, June 19, 2024 (Photo: Screenshot)

The mother of Israeli hostage Romi Gonen (23), Meirav Leshem Gonen, pleaded with the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday for international assistance in securing her daughter’s release.

Gonen's cry for help coincided with a lengthy session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland and the release of a scathing report alleging that both the State of Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization committed war crimes in the early stages of the conflict after Oct. 7.

The independent Commission of Inquiry touched on Hamas terrorists' violence against women during the attack, saying “women and women’s bodies were used as victory trophies by male perpetrators.”

However, Gonen criticized the report for trivializing the severity of sexual violence experienced by the women held captive by Hamas.

"I stand before you not only as a mother but also as a voice for women who have endured unimaginable suffering, whose pain is not acknowledged," she said. "When women's bodies are used as political tools, it is a badge of shame for us all."

Gonen recounted how Romi called her while attempting to escape from Hamas terrorists with three friends during the Nova music festival on Oct. 7. The terrorists ambushed their car, shot and killed Romi’s three friends, and abducted her into Gaza.

"She was brutally dragged by her long, beautiful hair from the car," Gonen said. “I was a witness to this reality when speaking with her on the phone, hearing her helplessness and frustration without being able to help my baby.”

Recalling the torment she endured upon hearing Romi's distress, Gonen said, "She was terrified, and I felt utterly helpless as I listened to her suffering."

"It has been 257 days since that horrific day," Gonen continued, reiterating the urgency of securing the release of all hostages held by Hamas. "I owe it to Romi, and so does the international community."

Speaking through tears, Gonen concluded, “I believe that we can do more for them. I believe we can do better for them. The hostages need us. The world needs them. Please, help me hug my daughter again.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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