Their lyrics, spoken in confident English, depict the harsh reality of the drama taking place. Yamit Ashkenazi, Ido Shamrez and Liran Berman don’t need to be in the same room to say the same words tirelessly for two months. When discussing their situation, these 30-year-olds oscillate between always “hopeful,” often “sadness,” and an uncomfortable “exhaustion.” The three 30-year-old Israelis have been linked since the Hamas attacks on October 7.
Three relatives, kidnapped by the Palestinian Islamic movement on Kibbutz Kfar Azza, unaffected by the first wave of hostage releases, are among 138 people still detained in Gaza: Doron Steinbrecher, Yamit’s little sister, Alon Shamrez, Ido’s little son. Brother of Galli and Zev Berman, Liran’s twin brothers. Three stories of one tragedy prompted these families to travel across Europe to raise awareness and seek help.
The difficult relationship between family life and the struggle for liberation
A few hundred meters from the Arc de Triomphe, and after a visit to Brussels the day before, this delegation is once again engaged in trying to tame the emotional “rollercoaster”, by combining their commitment with a torn family life. “Right now, I’m not the best father, nor the best husband,” Liran Berman, father of two children aged 4 and 1, continues after a sly sigh. I’m not available often. I’m doing everything I can to speak up for my brothers and get them released. “.
Being a “strong” mother to her two children, aged 6 and 3, is also the goal of Yamit Ashkenazi, who is not ready to “give in to her moods” even though her life has been divided into two parts, between battles for his younger sister and her children. “How do you explain to children that their aunt has been kidnapped? It took us a while to find the words,” the 34-year-old mother explains.
“If they ask us, we will answer.”
For Edo Chamrez, the approach was different. Her two youngest daughters, one of them two years old and the other ten months old. Therefore, the young father did not try to get involved in any major explanations. “They can’t understand, but they know their uncle is gone, because they don’t see him,” he says. But the other time, we were walking in Tel Aviv, and they saw a sign with Alon’s head on it. The eldest approached him as if he wanted to kiss him. »
“My eldest son, who is 4 years old, knows something is wrong, but we don’t want to pressure him,” explains Liran Berman, 36. If they ask us, we will answer, but we do not want him to know news that will embarrass or hurt him.”
Especially since their descendants must have already absorbed the trauma of the day of the attack. After being held in a rescue room with her two young children for 21 hours, Yamit Ashkenazi made it her mission to “fit in” and not burn out for their sake. When bad thoughts attack him, Yamit reveals his left arm. A sun stripped of a few rays tattooed in black ink on his skin. It gives him “courage” and hope. She vowed to complete it when her sister returned. “I know I’m going to get it over with,” she insists.
And between each response, sighs and silence are sometimes more expressive than words. But, even after more than sixty days without news, the mere mention of their loved ones and emotions makes them smile broadly.
The twins are obsessed with football and are “long-time subscribers” to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s stands, like Alon, to whom the club dedicated a “mural”. Doron is passionate about animals. This is also what they want to convey to their interlocutors. “Some days we are full of hope, and other days we feel completely depressed, but we have to try to see things positively,” concludes Edo Chamrez. This is also the message that the delegation of the hostage families intends to take to Strasbourg, the final leg of their European tour, on Sunday.
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