British relative of hostage calls on Labour Party for help

Stephen Brisley is still awaiting news of his brother-in-law, Eli Sharabi


Appeal: Eli Sharabi, who is missing, with his wife and two daughters, who were killed on October 7

The British relative of a Hamas captive has issued this heartfelt plea to the Labour Party as the expected election winner: “Don’t forget our hostages.”

Stephen Brisley, whose sister Lianne and two nieces were killed on October 7, is still awaiting news of his brother-in-law, Eli Sharabi. 

Sharabi is one of around six UK-linked hostages – including two with British citizenship – still being held by Hamas. While there is a Gaza hostage liaison for the families at the Foreign Office, Brisley says there has been little news in recent weeks.

“I am hoping that David Lammy and Keir Starmer, if they win, can bring something new to the table. Whatever has been going on behind closed doors has clearly not worked. We can’t keep doing the same thing,” he said.

Foreign Office policy has been one of “quiet diplomacy” but it is one that has borne no fruit. He added: “There needs to be something different and I don’t know whether we need to abandon this quiet diplomacy and get more noisy about it. I don’t know.

“On one hand we fear a change in government because we don’t know what this new government will do – whether their approach is going to be different. But, on the other hand, something needs to change and it needs to change quickly because the hostages simply don’t have time.

“We hostage families understand that this is all a small part of a wider problem but I am doing everything I can to get the hostages out. It is all I can think about. I wake up thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about it.”

Bristol-born David’s sister, Lianne, fell in love with kibbutz life – and with Eli – while on a gap year trip to Kibbutz Be’eri.

“She phoned my mum and said, ‘I’ve met a man’ and so my mum flew to Israel to check him out and had her first experience on a kibbutz. And the rest is history. They got married in 2000, had a ceremony here and in Israel and their two girls were born there. They were 13 and 16 when they were killed.

“My family had been there just a few months earlier for Yahel’s bat mitzvah in July and we’ve discussed how we could have all been wiped out. It’s this sliding doors moment.”

Lianne and her family would visit Bristol most years at Christmas and would often spend summer holidays in the UK too.

She and her girls were not officially identified for a few days; it later emerged that the two girls had been discovered in their mother’s arms. There was no sign of Eli. 

“We are so desperate now,” says Brisley. “We’ve had no proof of life – we don’t know if he was killed on October 7 and they are just holding onto his body. We may be doing all of this just to get his body back to Israel for a funeral. Or maybe he is alive and hasn’t seen sunlight for nine months. We need help.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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