Jacob Lew, U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Jacob Lew, U.S. Ambassador to IsraelPaulina Patimer

Over 100,000 people, including the families of the hostages and ambassadors from around the world, assembled Saturday evening at a huge international rally in Hostages Square.

With a unified voice, they called that negotiations resume immediately, urging, "We implore nations worldwide to join us in supporting these crucial talks and championing the swift and safe return of all the hostages to their loved ones."

Nikolaus Lutterotti, Austrian Ambassador to Israel, said: "The Austrian government is doing everything within its power and through its international contacts to all relevant partners to support the efforts to get all hostages back home! It is a despicable crime that is being committed on a daily basis for over 220 days and it must end! We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. It is a humanitarian priority! At the very least, the ICRC or other international monitors need to be granted access to the hostages."

Ayala Yahalomi, sister of French-Israeli Ohad Yahalomi, questioned: "How can an entire world not clearly see what happened to us and what the sequence of events was? How can world leaders not use all the power at their disposal to ensure that innocent citizens return home?"

"The world has lost all understanding of how to properly deal with terrorism. Terrorism needs to understand that the cruel act it has committed and the holding of innocent civilians hostage is unacceptable by any global standard. Impose economic, political, and social sanctions, and bring Hamas to a deal that will return them to us!"

Steffen Seibert, German Ambassador to Israel, said: "More than ever the world needs to be reminded that on October 7th a monstrous crime was committed against your loved ones – and is being committed every day since then. Those who live are in the tunnels of Hamas in conditions, physical as well as mental, we cannot even imagine. And those who have been killed already – their bodies are held thus inflicting further torture on their grieving families."

"This is why we still have to be here. Because Hamas refuses to set them free although that could end the war and the suffering of the Gazan population quickly. But their own population is not what interests Hamas and never was. We must be here because so far no deal has been made. And we must tell everyone that nothing can be more important than bringing the hostages home. It must be the number one goal."

Itzik Horn, father of Argentinian-Israeli brothers Eitan and Iair Horn, said: "I demand that the Israeli government, which is responsible for of the disaster that occurred on October 7th, bring them home immediately! My entire family and I immigrated to the Jewish state from Argentina more than 20 years ago, after experiencing a terrible military dictatorship and two terrorist attacks - the attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina and the attack on the Jewish community building in Argentina, from which I survived. It is difficult for me to believe that after choosing to come to this country, today I have to stand on this stage and demand that my Prime Minister ensure the release of my two sons, my children, from being held hostage by the Hamas terrorist organization."

Simon Walters, U.K. Ambassador to Israel, added: "The horror of 7th October seems to continue without end. I don’t think anyone expected that we would be here, in this position, more than seven months later. Not a day goes by without us thinking of the hostages and their families, and the terrible pain they have to bear. I want to repeat the promise I made when I last spoke in this square: We will not forget you, we will not abandon you. We will continue to everything that we can to bring them home."

Ambassador Walters also passed a message from Secretary of State for Foreign David Cameron: "Today we renew our call for the release of all hostages, who were taken when Hamas carried out the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the holocaust. Our message is clear: Hamas must release every single hostage immediately. The UK has said that the fastest way to end the conflict, and bring the hostages home, is to secure a deal which gets the hostages out and allows for a pause in the fighting in Gaza. That pause must turn into a sustainable, permanent ceasefire and a new plan for Gaza to ensure that this never happens again."

Evgenia Kozlov, mother of Russian-Israeli Andrey Kozlov, recalled: "In October 2023, I came to Israel, and since then, I have been doing everything I can to save Andrey. It's very difficult for me because I don't know Hebrew and I'm not fluent in English. In all the meetings with politicians, military personnel, at demonstrations, and on the streets, I don't understand anything and I need a translator. I'm living in his room, surrounded by Andrey's belongings. Andrey is my love, my happiness, my pride. And I won't stop, I won't let the people who make decisions eat and sleep peacefully. I'm fighting, I'm demanding the return of the hostages. War cannot save the hostages. My son has been held captive in Gaza for seven months! The hostages can only be released by signing an agreement. And I demand the agreement be signed immediately!"

Jacob Lew, US Ambassador to Israel, stressed: "As the United States Ambassador to Israel, I stand with you here to reaffirm the commitment of the United States that we will not stop working every day to bring the hostages home. To the family members of those held hostage, I say: We hear you. We stand with you."

"We will not stop working until you are reunited with your loved ones. The United States continues to press ahead mediation efforts to bring the hostages home. Hamas must release the hostages so that this crisis can end, and we can focus our efforts on bringing peace and stability to the region. As I have said before, the United States will pursue every effort to return all the remaining hostages. We will not waver in our commitment to deliver them to freedom and to bring every last one of them home."

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of American-Israeli Hersh Goldberg-Polin, noted: “Hersh is a dual American-Israel citizen."

"He is a civilian, and before he was stolen and kidnapped, from the Nova music festival into Gaza, his dominant left forearm was blown off.

"I want to thank the ambassadors of Austria, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom who are not only standing up for their own citizens, but are standing up for other citizens of the world, who are still being held hostage in Gaza after 225 days."

Yael Alexander, mother of American-Israeli Edan Alexander, added: "I was born and raised in Israel. Israel was my home, my safe place, and even when I left for the United States 20 years ago, it remained in my heart as my homeland. I discovered after the seventh of October that the country had changed its face. I found that its internal politics overrides its basic values and changes its priorities. Unfortunately, I discovered that there is currently no brave and strong leadership that knows how to make difficult decisions. Why aren't you listening! Failure to return the hostages will destroy Israel!! Our people, it will not destroy Hamas! My Edan is not a political card! He is my son and all of yours! We will not stop and will not cease fighting for you and the other hostages. This is our life's mission now!"

Former Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy hosted the rally. The rally also featured musical performances by Eurovision 2024 Israeli representative Eden Golan, Montana Tucker, Noga Erez, Netta Barzilai and Lola Marsh.