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Funeral procession calls for release of remaining hostages in Gaza

Family and friends attend the funeral service of Hanan Yablonka at Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in Tel Aviv, on May 26, 2024. (Photo: Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The funeral for recently recovered hostage Hanan Yablonka turned into a march for the release of other hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, as thousands of Israelis lined the roads to the Tel Aviv cemetery on Sunday.

Yablonka’s family requested that the public turn the funeral procession into a march, urging the government to secure the release of the over 120 remaining hostages still being held captive. Yablonka (42), the father of two young children, was killed during the Oct. 7 terror attack while fleeing terrorists at the Nova Music Festival, and his body was taken into Gaza.

Yablonka's body was recovered by the IDF troops in northern Gaza on Thursday alongside the bodies of Orión Hernández Radoux (30), and Michel Nisenbaum (59).

Reuven and Vered Yablonka, Hanan’s parents, and his sisters Orit and Avivit told Hebrew media it was important for them to hold a nonpolitical march calling on the government to prioritize the lives of the remaining hostages over all other Israeli war objectives.

The march was led by the Yablonka family through the streets of north Tel Aviv and Ramat Hasharon to the Kiryat Shaul cemetery. Participants held Israeli flags and wore shirts that called for the release of the hostages.

During the funeral, Israeli singer Lior Narkis, one of Yablonka's favorites, performed the song, “Mikol Ha’ahavot,” written by Idan Raichel.

In her eulogy, Yablonka’s mother thanked the thousands who had joined to procession, walking her son to his last resting place. She said he was “impossible not to love.”

“And I ask, how can I bid you farewell? In our worst dreams, we couldn’t imagine something like this. What I would give to hug you, to kiss you, breathe you,” she said, promising to ensure that her grandchildren would be happy despite the loss of their father.

Hanan’s sister also spoke about the loss of her brother.

“In just a few hours, I will bury my 42-year-old brother, who was murdered on October 7th and whose body was taken to Gaza,” she said. 

“In an instant, I have gone from being a sister with hope to a bereaved sister. Hanan loved life. He celebrated it and ended it the way he lived it - at the Nova festival.”

Eli Shtivi, father of hostage Idan Shtivi, who is still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, also participated in the funeral. He told Ynet News that the murdered Israelis at the music festival died defending Israel.

“If it wasn’t for that party and those people that were murdered, the terrorists would have gotten to Kiryat Gat – and possibly Tel Aviv – there wouldn’t have been anything preventing them. They would have had complete freedom of movement for 10 hours. They were just busy murdering those angels,” he said.

Shtivi’s words echoed those of the mother of former hostage Amit Buskila, who was also murdered at the Nova festival, and whose body was retrieved by the IDF about 10 days ago.

“Every day of life is a precious gift. I was privileged to have a gift, my Amit, for 28 years. She was an innocent girl who was murdered by Amalek. I believe that Amit was protecting us, protecting me. The terrorists would have reached Kiryat Gat if they hadn’t been delayed for so long at the Nova music festival,” said Ilana Buskila.

“Amit was murdered just because she was a Jew. Any Jew who was there would have been murdered. A rabbi explained to me today that she has risen to the highest level of heaven, as a martyr of the Jewish people. Her last words on the phone with her uncle were: Hear O Israel. That was her last will and testament,” she added.

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

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