TEL AVIV, Nov 21 — The families of Israeli children held hostage by Hamas in Gaza pleaded yesterday for international voices to demand their release at a protest outside the UN children’s fund in Tel Aviv.

Several hundred demonstrators joined the protest on World Children’s Day, more than six weeks after Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 others hostage.

At least 35 of the hostages are children, with 18 of them aged 10 and under, according to an AFP count. That figure includes a baby which the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was born in captivity.

Demonstrators held Israeli flags, portraits of the children and stuffed toys, with a projector casting enormous pictures of their names, faces and ages onto the side of the building housing the offices of Unicef, the UN children’s agency, as participants chanted: “UN do your job!”


“How can it be that in the face of this horror, my 12-year-old boy Erez and Sa’ar, 16, and many other children are hostages — brutally taken hostage — and the world is silent?” said Hadas Kalderon whose two children have been held in Gaza by Hamas since October 7.

“Large institutions like Unicef are silent. Have you forgotten your role?” she said.

“Where are the rights of my children?”


The rally took place shortly before the families were to meet with Israel’s war cabinet as rumours circulated that a possible hostage deal was in the offing.

Across Tel Aviv, like in many cities in Israel, the streets are plastered with banners, posters and stickers calling for the hostages’ safe return.

Air raid sirens warning of incoming Hamas rockets suddenly interrupted the demonstration, with some people running for shelter as others flung themselves onto the ground.

Yoni Asher, whose two daughters, four-year-old Raz and Aviv, 2, are among the hostages, called on Unicef to make a public stand about Israeli children “like you refer specifically to babies on the other side”.

“We are all hurt for each and every baby, for each and every child. We don’t want any children to get harmed. If we can say it, can’t you?,” he said.

Since October 7, Israel has pounded Gaza relentlessly from the air, land and sea with officials in the Hamas-run territory saying at least 13,300 people have been killed, among them more than 5,600 children. — AFP