Scenes yesterday in Lisbon's synagogue. Image: Facebook / Dor Shapira
Scenes yesterday in Lisbon's synagogue. Image: Facebook / Dor Shapira

Families of four Luso-Israelis still held hostage by Hamas pray in Lisbon

“Portugal on right side of this conflict”, says Jewish community leader

The families of four Luso-Israeli citizens, kidnapped two months ago in the atrocities unleashed by Islamic extremists Hamas gathered in Lisbon yesterday to pray for an “end to the nightmare”.

In front of around a hundred people gathered in the capital’s synagogue, Nira Herman Sharaby recalled the attack on the kibbutz where she lived in the early morning of October 7. Nira hasn’t seen her sister-in-law or her husband since that day, writes Lusa

She has no information about her husband, Yossi (53). As for her sister-in-law, Eli (51), she received information four weeks ago that she was still alive.

Visibly upset and holding a poster of her husband, Nira was supported by her brother-in-law, Raz Matalon, who lost three family members in the attack.

Raz Matalon told Lusa he is grateful for the world’s support against hatred: “I’m not religious, but I believe in the strength of the community.”

Regarding the massacre perpetrated by Hamas, Raz said the violence will haunt him for the rest of his life. “The cemetery in my village is full of young people…”

An emotional Omri Shviti recalled the day his brother Idan (28), “the best friend you can have”, went to a music festival. According to reports, he had a car accident trying to escape the terrorists and died four days later in a Gaza hospital. But Omri and his sister don’t want to believe it. “We have a strong belief that he is alive and we pray for that every day,” he told Lusa, explaining: “We don’t care about politics, we never did. We just want him to come home”.

Amir Trebitch has a cousin, Tsachi Idan (49), who has been missing since the attacks. 

“We’re here in Portugal to press for his release,” he said, justifying his presence here at the invitation of the Israeli embassy in Lisbon.

For his part, Israeli ambassador, Dor Shapiro, thanked Portugal and the Portuguese for their support, an “important solidarity that is also felt” in Israel, he said.

Last night’s moment of prayer was shared with “a lot of pain, but also a lot of hope”, which shows the unity of the world and Israel in what he categorised as the fight against terrorism.

“This unity shows us the spirit of Israelis – Jews, Muslims and Christians – in wanting to return to normality” after “bringing the hostages back.”

On the possibility of a ceasefire, called for by several countries and organisations, the ambassador aligned his speech with Tel Aviv’s official position.

The “ceasefire was broken by Hamas on October 7” and if the Islamic extremist movement wants a pause of this kind again it can have an “answer in two minutes, just surrender, hand over the weapons and hand over the hostages”.

Until then, Israeli troops will remain on the ground to “eliminate this terrorist organisation, pacify the region and bring back the 138 hostages,” he said.

Also speaking at the ceremony was the leader of the Israeli Community of Lisbon, David Botelho, who emphasised that “Portugal is on the right side of this conflict unilaterally and violently unleashed by Hamas terrorists”.

Portugal will support democracies against tyrannies, it will defend the rule of law against totalitarianism, it will value those who promote and practice freedoms against those who want to rule in dictatorships,” both “bilaterally and at European level.” 

At the end of the ceremony, all those present were invited to pray for the release of the hostages, and for the “heroic soldiers who are fighting in Gaza and northern Lebanon”.

The families of hostages have been making a tour of Europe, in a bid to increase pressure for their loved-ones’ safe return. The image below shows a meeting yesterday in Lisbon with mayor Carlos Moedas:

Image from Facebook page of Israel's ambassador to Portugal Dor Shapira
Image from Facebook page of Israel’s ambassador to Portugal Dor Shapira

Source material: LUSA