Families of remaining Israeli hostages gather in NYC to demand their release — as 3 captives found dead months after Oct. 7 massacre

Omer Shem Tov’s family watched helplessly as he was dragged into Gaza by Hamas on October 7.

The 21-year-old was attending the Nova Music Festival with friends when he was cornered and kidnapped. He remains in Gaza, one of about 100 hostages still in the hands of terrorists seven months after the war began.

“With live location sharing, his family witnessed him being kidnapped to Gaza,” Shem Tov’s cousin, Riet Colin Unger, 37, told the Post on Friday.

Unger spoke about her family’s harrowing ordeal at an “Open Tent Shabbat” at Flatiron Plaza hosted by the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Families of the hostages demanded the release of their loved ones and also used the event as an opportunity for New Yorkers to pray and learn about the Israelis still held captive.

The incident came amid news on Friday that three prisoners, including Shani Luke, were found dead in Rafah.

Omer Shem Tov has been detained by Hamas for more than seven months. leon neal
Omer Shem Tov’s mother, Sherry Shem Tov (C), is seen with the hostage and her son’s friend Itai Regev (left) during Kabbalat Shabbat prayers in Tel Aviv in February. Other relatives of the hostages were released. Getty Images
Lied Corinne Anger [right] She told how her family watched on GPS as her cousin Omer Shem Tov was taken to Gaza. AFP (via Getty Images)

The horrifying story of the Nova Festival massacre on October 7th has now become global news. For Shem Tov, the horror began with gunshots and explosions around 6:30 a.m. The 21-year-old called his sister and told her not to worry before trying to drive away, but he quickly abandoned the plan and left for the city. “Brush on foot,” Unger said.

Terrorists chased him and after escaping gunfire he was thrown into the back of a pickup truck.

Despite the dire conditions in Gaza, Unger said Shemtov remained faithful to his faith.

They learned from their friend Itai (who was also abducted but later released as part of the cease-fire agreement) that they were listening to Muslims’ prayers and keeping track of the time of the day.

Haggai Angrest’s son Matan Angrest was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th. robert miller
Kingston resident Maurice Schneider spoke about his 4-year-old grandnephew who was taken hostage. robert miller

Tob and Itai were distributing food so they could continue celebrating the Sabbath, Itai later told Tov’s family.

“Once they were given a pretzel, they would scrape the salt off, only use a little bit, and save the rest,” she said, adding that they were also given grape juice and kept it.

“We each took a portion of the small amount of pita bread that was given to them and recited the Shabbat blessing that brings light into darkness,” she added.

Unger, a Columbia University graduate, said those who want to end the suffering in Gaza should pressure Hamas to release the remaining hostages.

Palestinian militants drive back to the Gaza Strip carrying the body of Shani Ruk during an attack on Israel. AP
Families of Israeli hostages spoke about their captive relatives at an event Friday at Flatiron Plaza. robert miller

“It’s not a political thing, no matter what end of the political spectrum you stand on. The hostages are a humanitarian crisis and should be left alone,” she said.

“If you really want to end the suffering of innocent Palestinians, you will demand the release of the hostages,” Unger continued. “The release of the hostages will establish a ceasefire and bring an end to suffering and bloodshed on all sides.”

Although it has been a “roller coaster” situation, Tov’s family is “hopeful” that he will return safely, Unger said.

Friday’s event announced that the Israel Defense Forces had recovered the bodies of three hostages, including 22-year-old Shani Luuk, who was photographed being paraded half-naked by terrorists during the Oct. 7 attack. This was done in response to this.

A passerby looks at photos of Gaza hostages taped to a wall in Tel Aviv. AP

Two further victims of the music festival massacre, Amit Buskila, 28, and Itzik Gelernter, 58, were also killed during the military operation in Rafah.

Israel said insurgents were still holding about 100 hostages and the bodies of more than 30 others. About half of the 250 hostages taken by Hamas were released after a ceasefire was agreed in November.

Mr. Unger is a graduate of Columbia University, which has been troubled by violent anti-Israel protests on campus. She said that through a series of disturbances, her innocent hostage was politicized.