Tyler Gregory, the CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Bay Area, issued the statement below following the news that 13 Israeli women and children, 10 Thai and one Philippine nationals were returned to Israel in the first group of hostage releases from Gaza.
“We are deeply relieved that 24 hostages are going home nearly seven weeks after being kidnapped by Hamas. The road to healing for these former hostages will be long and painful, but we are grateful that they are finally safe and are reunited with their loved ones. We thank President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken and the U.S. government for continuously advocating for their release.
“At the same time, over 200 hostages remain in Gaza — all of whom need to come home. We stand in solidarity with the families of those whose loved ones remain captives of Hamas and whose futures remain uncertain. The international community should be clamoring for their immediate and unconditional release. Their captivity in Gaza is a war crime, and those responsible must be brought to account.
“Temporary pauses in the fighting is allowing for the release of hostages and crucial humanitarian aid to reach Gaza’s residents. But a long-term ceasefire must include restoring Israel’s military and psychological security by permanently removing the threat of future Hamas attacks on Israel and returning all remaining hostages. The international community cannot accept anything less.”