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Hostages' Families of Nir Oz Won't Celebrate Passover Seder Without Their Loved Ones

Nir Oz Passover, Photo Credit: CBN News.

KIBBUTZ NIR OZ, Israel –The Jewish people celebrate Passover each year with a seder meal, recalling the Israelites' miraculous exodus from Egypt after Moses told Pharaoh: "Let my people go."

Ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the main group that has been representing the hostages, organized an event at Kibbutz Nir Oz, close to the Gaza border, for family members of those taken hostage on October 7th to come together at their devastated kibbutz and cry out once again for their loved ones’ freedom.

Passover is known to Israelis as the holiday of freedom, and those here have the same message for the captors still holding their loved ones hostage.

“We want them to celebrate the upcoming holiday with us and not in dark tunnels in inhuman conditions. Let our people go,” Amir Alfassa cried out.   

The large communal dining room at the kibbutz is blackened and full of soot. Last Passover, it was filled with hundreds of people, celebrating the Passover Seder.

This year there won't be one at the kibbutz.

“It's the holiday of freedom. And our people have no freedom. They're still in captivity. And a year ago, they all celebrated here in the dining room together. Old people, young people, babies, children,” Alfassa told CBN News.

“It's a very special holiday here, and we have still some hope, that by the Passover evening, our people will come back to celebrate it,” he said.

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Alfassa is the nephew of Avner and Maya Goren, both murdered by Hamas. Maya's body is still held in Gaza.

Alfassa’s mother is Avner’s sister.  His parents and family are now the closest family to the three grown children of the Gorens.

“I want the world to not be indifferent to what happened here. To scream and shout with us and put pressure on Hamas, Qatar, whatever they can to bring our people back,” Alfassa said.

In the dining room, a Seder table with matzah, grape juice, and empty place settings has yellow chairs around it with pictures of those still missing from the kibbutz. While some are confirmed to be dead, the conditions of others like the family of Ofri Bibas are unknown. Her brother Yarden, his wife Shiri, and their sons, Ariel and Kfir, who turned one in January, remain captive.

“Just knowing that no matter how hard it is for me, it is much harder for them, you know, and they are going through hell, and they need us to speak for them and to remind them and to remind the world that they are over there and that it's the most unhumanitarian situation there is,” Bibas told CBN News.

She sees the connection with the upcoming holiday as crucial.

“Passover is, we call it the holiday of freedom. And their freedom has been taken for them six months ago,” she said.

Being at the kibbutz is almost surreal.  In certain areas, it’s beautiful and green, and bushes and plants are flowering for springtime. Then, turn the other direction, and there’s a row of burned-out and ravaged houses.

More than a quarter of kibbutz Nir Oz's 400 members were either killed or kidnapped on October 7th. Thirty-six of them, including some who are not alive, are part of the 133 still in Hamas captivity in Gaza.

Yael Adar is the mother of 38-year-old Tamir Adar, murdered and held in Gaza.  As part of the kibbutz security team, Tamir left his family in the bomb shelter to help defend his community that fateful day.

“I want every place in the world, just before they say, 'who is guilty, who is not guilty' (to) ask yourselves, ‘if it's possible to have a reality where they kidnap people, rape, murder, and the other side is supposed to be quiet?’” Adar told CBN News.

Given that the terror attacks that happened in Israel could happen anywhere, Adar questions why the world holds Israel to a double standard.

“If that reality sounds logical to someone, they can volunteer to have it happen to them. And everyone who says to himself, this won't happen in my country, then they should make sure it doesn't happen in this country. It's impossible that it happens here, and they tell us, ‘stop the war,’” Adar challenged those who would say Israel is at fault.

Imagining how her little nephews would enjoy Passover if they were free, a tearful Bibas called on the world to help.

“Will they be granted the freedom so cruelly taken from them? Hasn't the time come for the whole world to also shout for Ariel and Kfir? To shout for justice, for humanity, for an end to this nightmare. Let my family go! Let our people go!”

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