Moran Alony has imagined the reunion over and over again. Now it's real: His 6-year-old niece, Emilia, in his arms after spending nearly two months in Hamas captivity with her mother Daniel. Alony told Scripps News last week from Israel that not knowing whether any of his six abducted relatives would be released was unbearable.
"I don't know how I would feel for every hostage that is being released that is not my sister or my nieces," he said on Nov. 22.
Now, five of them have been freed by Hamas. His two sisters, Daniel and Sharon and his three nieces, 6-year-old Emilia and 3-year-old twins Emma and Yuli have all returned to Israel.
But left behind and still in captivity is Alony's brother-in-law, David, the twins' father.
"Until my entire family's back, there will still be a hole in all of us," Alony told Scripps News.
Under the recent framework agreement between Israel and Hamas, dozens of hostages have been released — very few of them Israeli men.
"With rejoicing to the view of those videos and photos of families reuniting, we are of course still in agony," New York City resident Moshe Emilio Lavi told Scripps News.
Lavi, whose brother-in-law was yanked away from his wife and two baby daughters on Oct. 7, says he understands women and children have been prioritized.
But he urges the world not to forget about his brother-in-law Omri and all other hostages left behind — irrespective of their gender, age and nationality.
"Let's ensure that those vulnerable hostages are taken out as soon as possible and then we will continue fighting for the release of everyone else," Lavi said.
The Israeli citizen tells Scripps News that he was notified by Israeli officials over the weekend that his brother-in-law was alive. But he says what was true a few days ago may not be the case anymore today.
Which is why he stresses: Time is of the essence.
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