Israel and Hamas at war | Distraught parents of soldier kidnapped by Hamas turn to Biden

(New York) The distraught parents of Omer Neutra, a young American-Israeli soldier held hostage by Hamas, are relying on President Joe Biden to find their son alive. In anguish, barely eating and sleeping, these New Yorkers say they are surviving in a “parallel universe”.

“It’s unimaginable, isn’t it? “, asks Orna Neutra, a visibly exhausted mother who agreed, with her husband Ronen, to testify to AFP about their ordeal since their son Omer was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 on the border between Israel and the Gaza strip.

“Well it became a reality. It feels like three months have already passed and, at the same time, it feels like it was yesterday. It’s crazy,” she whispers in a barely audible voice.


US President Joe Biden

Known to be very empathetic, Joe Biden spoke by videoconference on October 13 with the families and loved ones of Americans who were at the time in the hands of the Palestinian Islamist movement, report the Neutras, an Israeli-American couple from Long Island, at the is the New York megalopolis.

The President of the United States “spent over an hour listening to our stories. He showed compassion and truly expressed his and his government’s commitment to finding a solution. As he said, it’s his “absolute priority”, hopes Ronen Neutra, his features drawn.

In fact, on October 13, in a speech in Philadelphia, the head of state said about his fellow hostages: “We will not stop until we have brought them home.”

Ten American hostages


Omer Neutra

Among them, Omer Neutra, born in New York just 22 years ago, is a volunteer soldier in the Israeli armed forces and who was patrolling in an armored vehicle on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip when he was kidnapped with other soldiers on October 7, after the attack on their tank, say the Neutras.

The kidnapping of their son was confirmed to them two days later by the Israeli authorities.

Today, there are officially ten American hostages remaining after the release of two women in October.

Their families, including the Neutras, were received on October 27 by Vice-President Kamala Harris who “expressed her full support and determination to work with the Department of State (Foreign Affairs, Editor’s note), the FBI (federal police, Editor’s note), and the Israeli government to try to find a happy ending for the families by bringing all the children and adults home,” breathes the fifty-year-old.

More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since October 7, mainly civilians massacred by Hamas that day, and at least 240 people have been taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities. More than 10,500 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israeli bombardments launched in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for this attack, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

“Holocaust Survivors”

For a month, the Neutras, whose parents were Jewish “Holocaust survivors”, have said they are living in a “parallel universe”.

“We don’t eat well, we don’t sleep well and we don’t work anymore,” says the father, his voice tired and his gaze blank.

“We know nothing about their fate: are they injured, are they fed? “, implores the couple “surprised that the Red Cross has no access” to the hostages.

Omer Neutra, who turned 22 in captivity on October 15, had gone to Israel to “experience the country” of his parents, they say.

Postponing his start at university in the United States, he traveled to Israel to reconnect with his family roots. He was involved in social and humanitarian causes, such as helping disabled children, and ultimately decided to do his military service there like his parents and most young Israelis.

“Omer grew up here (in New York). He’s very American,” defends his mother.

But “he went there (to Israel) for good reasons: he wanted to protect. He is not the type to seek war, no one seeks war. It’s just crazy. We want him to come back,” demands Orna Neutra.

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