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Israeli hostage families ask Evangelical leaders to tell their loved ones’ stories until all hostages are free

Christian delegation has emotional meeting with three hostage families

Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas speak with a delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — “Don’t let the story die.”

That was the heartfelt and pointed message that three families of Israeli hostages who are being held by Hamas in Gaza shared on Wednesday with a delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders hosted by former Governor Mike Huckabee and ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel C. Rosenberg.

“That was the first time since October 7 that I’ve been invited to sit down with Israeli hostage families and it’s one of the most important and moving meetings I’ve ever been in,” Rosenberg said afterward.

“Their situations are so horrible, and their stories are so heart-wrenching, and yet these men and women are so strong, so courageous, and so gracious to meet with us.”

“Clearly, they want to honor their loved ones by sharing their personal stories and their photos, and they asked us not to let the world forget these hostages – to keep praying and pressing for their immediate release – and we readily agreed,” Rosenberg added.

“Our message to them was simple – 'Not to let the world forget God loves you, we love you, and you’re not alone,'” Rosenberg explained. “Evangelicals will always love and stand with Israel and the Jewish people against each and every enemy.”


After starting the day in Jerusalem, the group headed to Tel Aviv to visit “Hostage Square,” which was spontaneously renamed in the aftermath of the murderous assault by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Before Oct. 7, it was just a public square located outside of the Tel Aviv Art Museum but has since been turned into a living reminder of the fate of 129 Israeli hostages who still have not returned home.

Posters of every Israeli and foreign hostage can be found there, along with various pieces of artwork and memorials to those still being held captive in Gaza, including a long and beautifully appointed banquet table with 129 empty seats.

Visibly moved, the members of the delegation walked through the exhibits and booths, some dedicated to specific hostages, and others commemorating the hostages taken from certain communities.

The delegation was then received at the headquarters of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, where they met with representatives and family members of the hostages.


“Don’t let the story die,” former Israeli Ambassador Daniel Shek told the delegation while explaining what they could do to help.

Shek is among the many former diplomats, politicians, and professionals who volunteer to help the forum.

His spouse – former Knesset Member for the Labor Party, Emily Moatti – also participated in the meeting.

Together, they encouraged the Evangelical community to help get the word out about the plight of the remaining hostages and the increasing dangers they are facing after 75 days in captivity with little food, water, light, or fresh air.

“We all know what is the news cycle – it’s already a miracle we still manage to keep [the story] up there [on the international news],” Shek stated, asking Evangelical leaders to raise their voices and speak to their audiences about what they have seen and heard in during their three-day visit to Israel.


Several family members of the hostages spoke to the delegation, among them Shelly and Malki Shem-Tov, whose son Omer was kidnapped at the Nova music festival at Kibbutz Re’im.

The Shem-Tovs shared their son's particularly painful story with the delegation.

Omri has asthma and was kidnapped without his inhaler, they explained.

In addition, he has celiac disease and suffers tremendously from the gluten-heavy diet of bread and rice that the hostages are receiving from Hamas, they added.

Shelly and Malki Shem-Tov, whose son Omer was kidnapped at the Nova music festival, meet with a delegation of Evangelical leaders (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)


The family of Dafna Sella underwent unimaginable trauma as a result of the Hamas assault.

Twelve of her family members were either abducted or murdered.

Dafna showed the delegation her family tree to illustrate the scope of the catastrophe.

The family members were marked with different colors to show their status.

“It’s very moving for me to see this because these were all red,” she said, meaning that, until recently, all of her abducted family members were in Gaza.

Fortunately, she noted, eight women and children from her family were released from captivity – but one, Tal Shoham, still remains a hostage.

All of the delegation members were given a dog tag with the inscription, “Bring them home now,” a symbol that has become ubiquitous throughout Israel and is even being worn regularly by Jerry Seinfeld and Elon Musk since their recent visits to Israel.

Dafna Sella speaking with a delegation of Evangelical leaders (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)


Dani Miran, whose son Omri was kidnapped from his home, deeply moved the delegation with the story of his son, but also with his humor.

At one point during the meeting, the white-bearded Miran turned to Gov. Mike Huckabee, saying the governor owed him money to pay for membership in the Israeli club of bearded men.

Miran said he uses humor to stay strong so that upon his son’s return, he can greet him as the strong, brave father Omri will need.

Shek told the attendees that Miran is a pillar of the hostage family’s forum, uplifting everyone's spirits.

Huckabee was particularly touched by Miran’s story and the two bearded men exchanged hugs when the meeting ended.

Dani Miran with Sam Brownback, Joel Rosenberg and Mike Huckabee as he speaks with a delegation of Evangelical leaders (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)


“This is not just an Israeli issue – there are 25 different nationalities of people being held hostage, and as an American, I’m outraged that some of those are American,” Huckabee said.

“No Israeli caused this to happen,” Huckabee noted. “This is out of the evil of Hamas and their terrorist actions and nothing justifies it – nothing.

“This is evil versus good, and this is an evil of incalculable proportion,” he added. “And the savagery with which it was done is an uncivilized act of barbarianism.”


“In this dark moment, people of decency and in solidarity with Israel and all of its people cannot be quiet,” stressed former Ambassador Ken Blackwell.

He then shared two verses of scripture from the New Testament.

The first was from John 3:19: "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas speak with a delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

The second verse was from Matthew 5:15.

“When people light a lamp, they don’t cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house.”

“Our Bible teaches us that evil takes place in darkness and evil men love the darkness,” Blackwell noted.

“But Jesus teaches us that as Christians we have an obligation to share the light of God – not to hide our ‘candles’ but to lift them high to punch holes in the darkness, and that’s how we can defeat evil.”

The delegation began their day in Jerusalem meeting, praying and encouraging a group of “lone soldiers” – young IDF combat and logistics soldiers who were born and raised in the United States, then became dual U.S.-Israeli citizens, were drafted into the Israeli army, and are now faithfully serving the State of Israel during wartime, far from their families who are still in America.

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

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