NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A group of people who escaped a nightmare in Israel shared their stories during several South Florida stops, saying they’ve lost family members and are still waiting on some of their loved ones to be released by Hamas.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., hosted the group at her office in Plantation, Saturday. They’re all family members of hostages held by Hamas.
“My own family that hid out, my mother was murdered by Hamas,” said Or Gat.
Gat was speaking on behalf of his sister, Carmel Gat, and his brother’s wife, Yarden Roman Gat. He said they were all snatched from Kibbutz Be’eri.
Surveillance video showed the Hamas terrorists before they unleashed their brutal attacks four weeks ago.
Gat said he saw video of his mother kidnapped, and then of her lifeless body. He hopes his visit can reach the right ears to bring his loved ones home safely.
“Powerful and influential people in the U.S. that can be in the position to decide and to help,” he said.
Wasserman Schultz shared her platform with familes desperate for help.
“We have to make sure that we keep a white-hot spotlight on the fact that there are people who are being held captive,” she said.
Saturday night, the audience at Temple Sinai of North Dade in North Miami Beach gathered to hear Rita Lifshitz share how her community was devastated by terrorists on Oct. 7.
“I am from Kibbutz Nir Oz, which we are one of the closest places to Gaza,” she said.
Lifshitz said that one in four of the 400 who lived there were either killed or kidnapped.
“The whole kibbutz is my family, because we are living in a community together,” she said. “I have not only one person who Hamas took or one person that they killed. I have 76 family members in Gaza by Hamas.”
But there is a glimmer of hope.
Last week, her son’s grandmother, Yocheved Lifshitz, was released by Hamas. She is one of four hostages released.
In addition, a member of the Israel Defense Forces was rescued by the military during the ground invasion of Gaza.
Lifshitz said her father-in-law Oded is still being held. Wearing a shirt that reads “Bring them home now,” she described being a refugee in her own country, relying on the generosity of strangers.
“All amazing people around the world like you … they donated to us clothes so we had something to wear,” she said.
Or Gat said that above all, the fate of the 242 hostages who, Israel said, are in Gaza should be the focus.
“You realize that if you want that my sister comes back, and my friends from school with their kids come back to Israel to their lives, it doesn’t mean you need to love Israel, it means that you love human beings,” he said.
In all, five families came to South Florida from Israel this weekend to tell their stories. They also visited Palm Beach and Orlando.
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