An Israeli man whose cousin is being held hostage for the last 130 days in Gaza has said that the key to the safe release of hostages by Hamas is negotiation.
Gil Dickmann’s comments followed the rescue of two hostages from Rafah by Israeli defence forces yesterday morning. The same operation cost the lives of 67 Palestinians.
“We were very surprised and actually happy to hear of the two hostages who were rescued. We still believe that most hostages will be released by negotiation. This is the best way to get the most of them alive,” Mr Dickmann told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Dickmann’s aunt was killed and other family members were taken hostage in the attack on Kibbutz Be’eri on 7 October. His cousin’s wife, Yarden Roman Gat, was released in November after 54 days, while another cousin Carmel Gat remains captive in Gaza.
“I think it’s the main key. I think that most of the Israeli government understands it. I think that Hamas should understand right now that the military pressure is not going to stop,” Gil Dickmann added.
Asked about the safety of the remaining hostages and the potential offensive in Rafah by Israel, Mr Dickman said he is “always scared of the war putting lives at risk”.
He added most Israelis want negotiations and a “deal that will bring all the hostages back” home. The latter, he said, is something the Israeli government would have support to do from the general public.
“The Israeli government will have all our support in bringing a good deal that will bring the hostages back and might help us put this horrible tragedy behind us,” he said.
“What I believe is that if the two sides can find a way to agree that would be the best possibility that would end this cycle of violence and manage even to rescue as many hostages as possible,” he added.
Asked about the threat to civilians living in Rafah – many of whom are displaced from other parts of Gaza by the war – Mr Dickmann said he did not “want to see civilians getting hurt by the war”. He blamed Hamas and said they put the lives of civilians on both sides at risk.
“I really hope that we get to see a solution before more and more civilians are getting hurt because this is not good for any of the sides.”
Mr Dickmann’s 39-year-old cousin Carmel remains captive. He said that fact has “crushed” his family.
“Our family is crushed and it’s been crushed since 7 October. For us, it’s just one long day that’s going on and on and on for 130 days. It never ended for us.
“I stopped working four months ago and the only thing I do now is to try to make sure that she comes back alive and that all the other hostages are released as well.
“You know we got Yarden Roman Gat, my cousin’s wife back, which was a very happy thing and a very happy occasion for us.
“But for her and for our whole family, nothing can heal if Carmel is not back.
“We can’t even mourn the death of my aunt – Carmel’s mother. We said goodbye, we said our farewell to her almost four months ago. But I don’t think we got to mourn properly because we are so focused on getting Carmel back.
“With every day and every night we think that something bad might happen to her. That’s a constant fear for all the hostage families.”