Behind the scenes of this weekend’s dramatic reunions
Over the weekend, a total of 41 civilians – both Israelis and foreign nationals – were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza. The scenes of families being reunited have played on repeat on TV around the world with millions sharing in their relief and joy, whether or not they know the hostages personally.
In today’s newsletter, I want to speak a little about the preparations to receive the hostages and how they are taken from the crossing into Israel – accompanied by IDF officers and doctors – to meet their families for the first time in seven weeks.
Before that though, I want to address a disturbing trend I’m seeing on both traditional and social media. Some have taken to describing the release as a ‘hostage exchange’ or a ‘prisoner swap’.
This is no such thing.
Preparing to Meet the Released Hostages
Countries and militaries do not have protocols on ‘how to receive dozens of children from being held hostage by a terror organization for seven weeks’.
It’s simply not something we should need to prepare for. But we have.
The cruelty of Hamas holding children hostage means that our Manpower Directorate has been making specific preparations for their release. This included providing dolls and other toys for the children when they are finally in Israel.
We are not releasing ‘hostages’ from Israeli prisons. These are individuals who attempted to murder Israelis, who have stabbed random Israelis walking down the street, attempted to plant bombs or were going to carry out attacks. In each case, these individuals were convicted and sentenced by a court of law for their crimes, were awaiting trial after being charged or were being held to prevent them from carrying out attacks.
The hostages released by Hamas were guilty only of being Israeli.
This twisted moral equivalence is another example of the dangers of trying to ‘balance’ reporting on a war between a democratic state and a terror organization.
It’s one thing to get facts of a story wrong when you’re reporting from an active war zone. But that’s not what these errors are.
It’s simply moral confusion.
Once the hostages arrived in Israel, they were accompanied by IDF soldiers from the Manpower Directorate and medical officials on their journey to be reunited with their families.
Following their release, the hostages were escorted by IDF soldiers to the Hatzerim Air Base, from which they were taken to hospitals and reunited with their families.
However, the small details didn’t escape the Air Force either. Special child-sized noise-canceling headphones were given to each child to make the experience that little bit easier.
Meanwhile, their loved ones waiting for them were accompanied by IDF representatives and updated with the latest available information.
IAF helicopters then took off on a flight to the hospital, where the long-awaited reunion finally takes place.
- Yesterday, a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon was successfully intercepted by the IDF Aerial Defense Array.
- The IDF also downed a surface-to-air missile that was launched from Lebanon toward an IDF UAV. The UAV was not damaged and continued on its mission. The missile did not cross into Israeli territory. In response to the launch, IDF fighter jets struck Hezbollah terror infrastructure.
- Last night, an IDF fighter jet successfully intercepted a UAV approaching Israeli territory, in the area of the Red Sea. The UAV did not infiltrate into Israeli territory.
Quote of the Day
A four-day operational pause is not the end of our mission to dismantle Hamas and bring our hostages home, as the IDF Chief of the General Staff made clear in recent remarks:
“We have created conditions for the framework for the release of the first group of children and mothers held hostage during this pause. When the framework is completed, we will return to our operations with determination, for the continued release of the hostages and the complete dismantlement of Hamas.”
– Chief of the General Staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi