By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Cecile Mantovani
GENEVA (Reuters) – Outside the Red Cross in Geneva on Friday, Assaf Shem Tov clutched a picture of his 21-year-old nephew who was abducted by Palestinian group Hamas and called on the international community to step up efforts to free Israeli hostages.
The nephew, Omer Shem Tov, was at a festival in Kibbutz Reim near the Gaza Strip when he was abducted. His family was told by authorities that he was in Gaza but have heard nothing since.
“I think that we need the Red Cross to first of all visit the hostages, make sure that they are well treated,” he said.
“Make sure that they get human rights, and act as fast as possible for them to come back home.”
Assaf Shem Tov and relatives of two other hostages were set to meet with Mirjana Spoljaric, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has offered to visit and help the hostages in any way and work towards their release.
“Any civilized country should put as much pressure as they can for the release of the hostages,” said Michal Dorset, aunt of hostage Romi Gonen, who was abducted and taken to Gaza when trying to escape a nature festival.
“These are not military personnel. These are simple people that just went to enjoy themselves or live in that area.”
Hamas gunmen took at least 200 hostages and killed about 1,400 people during an Oct. 7 raid on communities and military bases in southern Israel.
Israel has responded by hitting Gaza with air strikes, killing thousands, and has said it will act to free the hostages while wiping out Hamas.
Doris Liber, mother of hostage Guy Itzhak Iluz, knows her son was shot by Hamas gunmen but has not heard from him since.
“He called from the party. We heard the gunshots,” she said. “He was injured… he was losing a lot of blood. It’s been two weeks now. I don’t know what his situation is.”
“My son is a big boy. He’s 26 years old. But still, he’s my baby.”
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Cécile Mantovani; Editing by)