Last week, the Israeli Embassy in Hungary facilitated the visit of four Israeli citizens—Lishay Lavi, Daniel Miran, Osnat Shushan (Weiss), and Raviv Weiss—to Hungary. The purpose of their visit was to bring attention to their Israeli Hungarian relatives, Omri Miran and Ilan Weiss, who are currently held captive by Hamas. The hostages’ relatives met with Hungarian President Katalin Novák, several Hungarian government officials and Jewish representatives. The relatives spoke of their ordeal at a conference at the MERKAZ Hebrew and Israeli Cultural Centre. The families also visited Faith Church Hungary, a Hungarian evangelical Pentecostal church, to tell their story and ask for further support.
On 24 November, Israel and Hamas reached a temporary ceasefire agreement in which 112 hostages were released in return for 180 Palestinian prisoners. As Or Yissachar told Hungarian Conservative, the temporary agreement meant that Hamas selected between the hostages and didn’t release men and soldiers, which is why Omri Miran and Ilan Weiss are in captivity.
During the MERKAZ Conference, Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Yakov Hadas-Handelsman delivered remarks, followed by the speeches by the hostages’ families, who told the audience about their personal experiences of the horrors that happened to them and their abducted family members.
Israeli Hungarian Hostage Omri Miran’s Father ‘Extremely Grateful for the Hungarian Support’
46-year-old Omri Miran was taken captive on 7 October by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Nir Oz, leaving his wife, Lishay Miran, 38, and their six-month-old and two-year-old daughters. On 7 October, after hearing the sirens in the morning, the Miran family rushed to their safe room. At 10:30 a.m., Hamas terrorists broke into their house and forced them to come out together with a 16-year-old neighbour, Tomer Arbe-Eliaz, who asked the family to open the door, fearing for his life. The terrorists initially considered killing the family but opted to relocate everyone to a neighbouring house. As they were sitting on the floor with their neighbours, they heard how the 18-year-old daughter of the neighbouring family was killed by the terrorists in their safe room. At around 1 p.m., two more women were brought to the house, and thirty minutes later, the terrorists instructed Omri and the other family’s father to stand and took them, along with their car keys. Lishay told Omri minutes before: ‘I love you, I’ll protect our girls, we’re waiting for you, and don’t be a hero.’ After Omri was abducted, Lishay and her girls, along with her neighbours, had to sit for another four hours until IDF soldiers found them at 5:30 p.m.
Lishay described the fear she felt on 7 October when Hamas attacked. Lishay added that the Jewish people of Israel do not see 7 October as another stage in the Arab–Israeli conflict but as a new Holocaust, a new Shoah. She said although they always repeat ‘Never again!’, and yet it happened. However, she said she is hopeful for the future and looking forward to being reunited with her loved ones.
Daniel Miran, the father of Omri Miran, expressed the despair he felt on 7 October as he was only able to communicate remotely with his son, with whom he had suddenly lost contact. He also highlighted that although he was bitter and heartbroken about the loss of Omri, he felt happy that his daughter and grandchildren were alive and that there was hope for Omri’s return.
Daniel Miran also stressed that he was extremely grateful for the support of the Hungarian people, and he also expressed his gratitude to the Hungarian government and the Israeli Embassy for their help in the difficult situation.
Ilan Weiss’s Wife and Daughter Were Released, But He Is Still Held Captive by Hamas
53-year-old Shiri Weiss and her 18-year-old daughter, Noga Weiss, were released on 25 November as part of a temporary ceasefire deal. However, Shiri’s husband, Ilan Weiss, has been missing since he left for the kibbutz emergency squad on the morning of 7 October. When the terrorists entered the Weiss home, Noga hid under the bed in the safe room and watched as Hamas gunmen took her mother captive. Noga texted the rest of the family on WhatsApp, telling them that the gunmen set fire to the house. As it became difficult to breathe, Noga’s older sister told her to escape through the window of the safe room and hide in a bush. At 11:30 am, Noga texted her sister and told her that a terrorist was approaching her hiding spot, which was the last time anyone heard from her.
The Weiss family is part of Kibbutz Be’eri, devastated by the tragic events, including the loss of Ilan’s brother and sister-in-law, Amir and Mati, who were killed when terrorists threw grenades into their home.
Osnat Shushan, the sister of Ilan Weiss, said that for a while, she was also able to keep in touch with Ilan through WhatsApp, but after a while, that connection was cut off, too. She emphasized that what Hamas did to his brother and others was inhuman and stressed that hostages shouldn’t be forgotten as there is still hope they’ll return.
Raviv Weiss, the brother of Ilan Weiss, harshly criticized the Red Cross in his speech, saying that the organization was not doing its job and was not trying to find out information about the condition of the hostages.
At the end of their two-day trip to Budapest, at the invitation of pastor Sándor Németh, the relatives of the Hungarian Israeli hostages visited Faith Church Hungary to share their stories and ask for further support. The hostages were accompanied by Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, who highlighted that the reason why the relatives’ visit was important was because the situation of the Israeli Hungarian hostages should not be forgotten and that every effort should be made to ensure that they, along with the other more than 130 Israeli hostages, returne home. The relatives were really touched by the love, support and solidarity of the Christian community, whose pastor has been a long-time supporter of Israel.
Zoltán Kovács: ‘No “Context” Needed—Just Release the Hostages!’
State Secretary for International Communication and Relations Zoltán Kovács also met with the Israeli Hungarian hostages’ relatives and wrote in his Facebook post: ‘No “context” needed—just release the hostages!’. The State Secretary’s post reacted to the outrageous responses of the presidents of America’s most prestigious universities, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and MIT, to the question posed by Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik whether calling for the genocide of Jews went against the universities’ code of conduct. All three presidents answered that it depended ‘on the context’.
Hungarian President Katalin Novák also received the hostages’ families and wrote the following in her Facebook post:
‘Every night, Lishay and her eight-month-old daughter say a symbolic good night to her husband, her daughter’s father Omri, who was taken hostage by Hamas two months ago.
Hamas kidnapped hundreds of Israeli hostages, including 5 Hungarian citizens, in the October 7 terror attack. Thanks to a lot of help, three of them have been freed, but two, Omri, 46, and Ilan, 55, are still in captivity. I received their family members at the Sándor Palace.
Not many things could be more tragic than being in total uncertainty about the well-being of your loved ones. I assured the families of Omri and Ilan of my support. We stand by them. Hungary calls for the immediate release of the hostages and will do its utmost for Omri and Ilan.’