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Eyewitness: Pain and anguish of British families four months after hostages taken

By Sarah Hajibagheri, field news editor

The families of the British hostages Eli Sharabi and Oded Lifshitz passionately appealed for their release at a news conference in London today, four months after they were captured by Hamas.

Stephen Brisley spoke calmly and bravely – his voice was lined with grief and his eyes were glazed and moist.

His elder sister Lianne and two nieces Noiya and Yahel were all murdered in their home on kibbutz Be’eri on 7 October.

Mr Brisley, whose brother-in-law Eli Sharabi is still in captivity in Gaza, blamed the failure of international diplomacy to get the hostages home. 

Appealing to the international community, he said: “Now is the time to secure the deal, to release the hostages.”

He said “I’m not a politician or a diplomat” and “my story is not about land or borders”.

Describing a meeting with Rishi Sunak, he also said “it was helpful to look the prime minister in the eye” and “make him aware it’s about families and people”.

He also said he had been talking about Eli as a hostage for too long. 

“I’m sick of talking about them, I want to talk to them,” he added.

Eli’s brother Sharon Sharabi was also at the news conference. His brother Yossi, who is another hostage, died in Gaza. 

“My brother Yossi, his time ran out. The time is running out for Eli and all of the hostages. We are very concerned about their mental and physical condition,” he said.

Raz Matalon, the brother-in-law of Yossi and Eli Sharabi, said: “Yossi didn’t get a proper funeral. His body is held in Gaza.”

He went on to make a pledge to his dead brother-in-law and said: “I promise we will keep your family safe, your wife and your three daughters.”

Sharon Lifschitz’s 83-year-old father is still a hostage. 

She described him as “frail” with complex care needs and said she had been left”devastated”. 

“Every night I go to sleep and think about my father. Every time I put a blanket on my shoulder I think about his cold shoulders,” she said.

 “Israel has a duty to return its citizens.”


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