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Israeli 'hostages are victims of terror and hatred' – opposition leader Lapid blasts the 'silent' at DC rally

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid at DC Israel rally, April 8, 2024. (Photo: Yair Lapid/X)

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid traveled to Washington on Saturday to meet with senior officials of the Biden administration, as well as senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties, amid ongoing tensions between the United States and Israel over the war in Gaza.

Over the weekend, on the six-month anniversary of the brutal Hamas attack on southern Israel, Lapid spoke at an Israel rally where thousands marched across the National Mall demanding the release of the hostages. Demonstrators shouted, “Bring them home,” while marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

Lapid has blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the deterioration in relations between the U.S. and Israel in recent weeks.  

Speaking to Channel 12 news on Saturday, Lapid said the rift was preventable and that it was questionable if relations could ever be fully repaired by future governments.

He noted that some of Israel’s fiercest Democratic allies have joined in the criticism, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who joined a call on Friday with other Democrats to halt arms sales to Israel.

At the rally, Lapid vowed to continue working for the immediate release of all the hostages in Hamas captivity and blasted those who were not speaking up in their defense.

“We came here today to say there are truth and lies in this world.”

"The hostages are victims of terror and hatred, as they are victims of anyone who remains silent and of anyone who tries to explain to us that there are two sides to the story. There are not two sides to the story. This is not a story. These are real people,” he continued.

"Each one of us is responsible for their fate. No one has the right to pretend that this is normal and that life goes on. Every person, every leader, every government must be a part of the effort to bring them home,” he added. 

While in the U.S., Lapid also met with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid with US State Secretary Antony Blinken, April 8, 2024. (Photo: Yair Lapid/X)

Jolie Bain-Pillsbury of Arlington, a friend of one of the hostages’ families, said the family has paid a horrible price since the attack.

“Her mother was killed by the Hamas horde on October 7,” Bain-Pillsbury said. “Her brother escaped, his wife, and little child. It’s a miracle.”

The Oct. 7 attack resulted in 1,200 people murdered and about 250 others taken hostage. Israel says more than 130 hostages remain in captivity, although less than 100 are believed to still be alive.

Rally organizers stressed their concern for the safety of the hostages.

“They are in an inhumane situation. The Red Cross can’t even get to them. They don’t have food,” said Tova Rubin, of the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. The forum helped organize the rally with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

“They’re being abused and violated. The longer they’re there, the more chance they’ll die. They’re getting weaker and weaker.”

The fighting in Gaza has claimed more than 33,000 lives, according to Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, along with seven members of the D.C.-based World Central Kitchen. The aid workers were killed when IDF troops reportedly suspected an armed terrorist was among the convoy and made the decision to launch the missiles. 

In a tense 45-minute telephone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Biden told the prime minister that “U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action,” adding that the strike was “unacceptable” and calling for an “immediate ceasefire.”

The Biden administration voiced opposition to Israel’s plans for a ground operation in the southern city of Rafah for weeks, where 1.5 million civilians are currently displaced.

Israeli officials say the goal is still to dismantle the remaining Hamas terror battalions in Rafah and evacuate the civilians from the city.

On Monday night briefing, Netanyahu told reporters, “Today I received a detailed report on the talks in Cairo.”

“We are working constantly to attain our objectives, first and foremost the release of all of our hostages and the achieving of total victory over Hamas.”

He emphasized: “This victory requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there. This will happen; there is a date.”

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

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