'Waiting for a deal is driving us crazy' say families of hostages held in Gaza

If a deal happens, agonised parents say male young adults will not be handed over first


The parents of young men being held by Hamas have voiced doubts that any hostage agreement will include their sons because the younger abductees are likely to be released first - if any deal is made at all.

Speaking during an emotionally charged press conference at the Israeli Embassy in London on Monday, Iris Haim, whose son Yotam Haim, 28, is among the abducted, said: “If they want to free the children first, then of course, they have to do that. They will be freeing people step by step.

“I understand my son won’t be among the first but that still is hard to think about because he’s my son.”

Orit Meir whose 21-year-old drummer son Almog Meir Jan said: “I know he won’t be first and that just carries on our psychological pain.’”

American and Qatari officials indicated Sunday that Israel and Hamas were closing in on a deal that would see a limited release of some hostages held in Gaza.

Last week the Washington Post reported that Israel and Hamas were “close to an agreement on a U.S.-brokered deal that would free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting."

The Post, citing Arab officials in Qatar and elsewhere said that the six-page deal stipulated that both sides would: “freeze combat operations for at least five days while an initial 50 or more" hostages would be released.

However, as the relatives of hostages made clear during the press conference, each abducted family has two family liaison officers - one from the government and one from the IDF - and none has been told about a deal yet.

Thomas Hand, whose nine-year-old daughter is among the kidnapped, cast doubt that an agreement would happen at all in the near future. He said: “We will believe that when it happens. We don’t know if it’s real. We are in close contact with the government and the IDF and they inform us if anything is happening but we don’t know if anything is happening.”

Iris Haim added: “We get very very little information about releasing the hostages and as Thomas said, I believe it when I see it.

“When we hear it in the news we tense up because we hope something is happening for us but it making us crazy. We sit and wait but nothing is happening. That’s what we need people from England to talk more about a deal - to make something happen. Your government has power and we need that help.”

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