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Israelis Remember Hostages, Fallen Soldiers, Terror Victims as Passover Begins

04-22-2024
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Chairs for the Bibas family, hostages held in Gaza, are seen at a Passover seder table set, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)
Chairs for the Bibas family, hostages held in Gaza, are seen at a Passover seder table set, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

JERUSALEM, Israel – Jews worldwide and throughout Israel will celebrate the Feast of Passover Monday night.

While they celebrate the freedom from the bondage of ancient Egypt, they also grieve for the more than 100 hostages still in Hamas captivity, as Tuesday will mark the 200th day since the massacre and kidnappings on October 7th.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to return all of the hostages.

“On this Seder night, our hostages being held by Hamas are before our eyes," he declared. "Their suffering and the suffering of their families rends our hearts and only strengthens our resolve to bring them back.” 

Netanyahu also took to social media to thank the U.S. Congress for passing critical military aid for Israel over the weekend.

He wrote on X that the bill "demonstrates strong bipartisan support for Israel and defends Western Civilization. Thank you, friends, thank you, America!"

The aid comes as Israel is fighting for its survival on multiple fronts with Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis, and Iran, itself.

It was reported Monday that the head of Israel's military intelligence resigned his post, citing intelligence failures that led to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. 

In his resignation letter, Gen. Aharon Haliva wrote:

"The intelligence directorate under my command did not live up to the task we were entrusted with. I carry that black day with me ever since, day after day, night after night. I will carry the horrible pain of the war with me forever."

It's not clear if it will set the stage for more resignations and some fear it comes at a dangerous time, as Israel prepares for the Passover holiday and its troops are on alert.

Despite their welcome of Washington's U.S. aid vote, Israeli leaders are also criticizing the U.S. State Department's decision to sanction an Israeli battalion accursed of torturing a West Bank Palestinian back in 2022. It represents the first-ever U.S. sanction against an IDF unit.

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant wrote, "Any attempt to criticize an entire unit casts a heavy shadow on the actions of the IDF, which operates to protect the citizens of Israel. Damage to one battalion affects the entire defense establishment – this is not the right path for partners and friends.”

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik posted on X, “Israel is currently fighting for her right to exist, and at a time when our greatest ally needs us the most, Joe Biden and Secretary Blinken are choosing to purposely undermine Israel to appease the pro-Hamas faction of the Democratic Party.”

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Meanwhile, many Israeli troops won't be home to celebrate this week's Passover. Instead, they'll guard against threats from the north, south, east, and west.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated, "Our forces are deployed along the entire length of the borders of the state of Israel to ensure the safety of the citizens of the state of Israel."

The Israeli government also released a video highlighting the plight of the hostages. It shows what Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter would look like without a family member at the table.

The video's narrator noted, "No family in the world should celebrate like this – 133 Men, women, and children will not celebrate Passover with their families this year.  On October 7th they were abducted from their homes and now they are held captive in Hamas terror tunnels.”

At Seders in Israel and around the world, some Jews will be leaving one seat empty to remember those hostages. 

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