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Families in Los Angeles plead for safe hostage return amid ceasefire end 

The recent collapse of the ceasefire in Gaza has heightened concerns among families of remaining hostages, prompting some of them to visit Los Angeles to share their harrowing stories and appeal for the safe return of their loved ones. 

For nearly two months, anguish has marked the faces of family members, some fortunate enough to witness the release of their loved ones, while others still endure the agony of uncertainty. Tragically, some have experienced the loss of family members at the hands of their captors, with hopes now pinned on the safe return of those still held.

“It’s unimaginable; it’s the worst feeling I’ve had in my entire life,” expressed a family member in a brief interview.

Among the heart-wrenching accounts is that of Itay Raviv, the nephew of a hostage, who decried the situation as a “crime against humanity, an ongoing crime against humanity.” Another relative, Ophir Weinberg, shared the devastating story of a hostage who witnessed his mother’s murder, was subsequently taken into captivity, and has now endured 56 days of uncertainty.

The families joined Los Angeles City Council Member Bob Blumenfeld and Kevin de León, holding photographs of their loved ones in a poignant plea for their return.

One such case is that of 78-year-old Avraham Munder, whose wife, daughter, and granddaughter were released by Hamas, leaving him still in captivity. Another case is that of 38-year-old Itai Svirsky, who survived the murder of his parents by Hamas on Oct. 7. His family only learned of his survival through other released hostages.

“He thinks he has no family to return to; he doesn’t know we’re fighting for his return. He thinks he has no family anymore,” lamented Weinberg, a cousin of one of the hostages, said.

Itay Raviv, the nephew, voiced his concern about the selective release of hostages: “As a young man, it’s difficult for me to watch only women and children be released because men suffer, too, and men have feelings, too.”

Weinberg emphasized the potential to save lives, both of the hostages and Palestinian civilians, urging a collective effort for their safe return.

In an update on the situation, it was revealed that approximately 240 hostages were initially captured by Hamas, with around 100 having been released so far. The end of the ceasefire has heightened fears that securing the safe return of the remaining hostages will become even more challenging.

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