Families of missing Franco-Israelis ask Macron to help

By Janis Laizans

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Struggling to hold back tears, relatives of Franco-Israeli citizens urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday to help free and locate their missing children, siblings and partners.

Twelve French citizens are confirmed dead in Israel, and 17 are missing, according to the latest official tally.

“I want my sister back, I want everyone to find their missing family,” Meitav Journo, sister of 24-year-old Karin Journo, told reporters in Tel Aviv, speaking alongside the relatives of other missing Franco-Israelis.

“President Macron, it’s in your hands … you have the powers to get them home.”

Macron will address the nation on TV in the evening to call for unity and try to prevent any spillover of the conflict in France, where there has been a rise in antisemitic acts.

Karin’s father, Doron Journo, said she sent her family a text message in the early morning of Saturday, telling them she loved them and feared she would not come back.

“We don’t know if she is dead or in Gaza,” Doron said. “My daughter had not been waging war, she had just gone to dance,” he said, as the sister, Meitav, cried next to him.

Samuel Ben David, brother of 32-year-old Celine Ben David-Nagar, also appealed to Macron to save his sister, who moved to Israel in 2006.

“Macron must do everything so that the civilians can get out of there (Gaza),” he said. “Celine is French, her daughter is French.”

Celine’s husband Ido Nagar, who before the news conference started had been holding their six-month-old daughter on his lap, said Celine went missing as she was going to the dance festival targeted by Hamas militants.

“They ran into the terrorists from Hamas and she was probably kidnapped to Gaza,” he said, crying. “We have a small baby … please, bring back my wife.”

Batsheva Yaalomi, mother of 12-year-old Eitan, who was snatched from their home, recounted at length how the family hid in a safe room for hours before Hamas attackers broke in.

Her husband was injured and is also missing.

“My heart is shattered,” she said, urging Macron to help.

“I don’t want any other mother to not know where their son is. We lived near Gaza. We wanted peace.”

Israel said on Thursday there would be no humanitarian exceptions to its siege of the Gaza Strip until all its hostages were freed.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Ingrid Melander in Paris and Janis Laizans in Tel Aviv, writing by Ingrid Melander, editing by Andrew Cawthorne)