Grandmother Of Israeli Hostage Spends Hanukkah Outside Leaders’ Homes

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Grandmother Of Israeli Hostage Spends Hanukkah Outside Leaders' Homes

Romi Gonen, 23, was kidnapped from the Nova festival in the deadly October 7 attack.

TEL AVIV:

Dvora Leshem spent each of the eight nights of Hanukkah outside the house of a different Israeli leader, in protest, demanding the return of her granddaughter who is being held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Hanukkah, a family holiday that commemorates an ancient Jewish victory, is celebrated with the lighting of candles in a traditional, multi-branched Hanukkah Menorah. An extra candle is added each night.

“I will not light a candle and I am going to stand in front of the homes of members of the government, those who sit in the cabinet,” said Leshem, whose granddaughter Romi Gonen was among some 240 people taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in southern in Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed.

The attack was the deadliest in Israel’s history and sparked the war in Gaza.

“I ask of them – I am not lighting candles and I want you to make sure to bring back my granddaughter and bring back the other hostages so that we can be happy and we can celebrate Hanukkah properly,” she said from her home in Tel Aviv.

Over the holiday, the 87-year-old spoke with Israel’s defence minister in front of his house and met another member of the war cabinet, urging him: “We need to get them out before we topple these bastards.”

Gonen, 23, was last heard from the morning of Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked people at the outdoor party she was attending. Gonen, a dancer, ran for her life with her best friend, hiding in bushes. She eventually made it to a car which was shot at, killing the driver, who was a colleague, and her best friend. Gonen was shot in the hand.

The whole time she was on the phone with her family.

“We heard two Arabs talking to each other about whether to kill her or take her,” said Leshem. “They decided to take her because she was still breathing. They took her and after a few moments she says – ‘Hi mum.’ That’s it, and we haven’t heard any more.”

More than 100 hostages were freed in a week-long truce that ended on Dec. 1. Since then fighting has resumed, with Israel pursuing a military offensive against Hamas in Gaza that has led to the deaths of nearly 19,000 people in the enclave. Gonen is among the over 130 hostages that remain in captivity.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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