The Knesset plenum held a special deliberation today regarding the hostages still held by Hamas.
Prime Minister Netanyahu commented on the efforts to recover them. "In my years as Prime Minister, I have met with all the powers and ambassadors in Israel, including the Chinese ambassador. I cannot remember another time when I summoned the Chinese ambassador - they usually arrive of their own accord. A few days ago, though, I summoned him and requested that he pass on a message to Xi Jinping about an Israeli girl, Noa Argaman, a student who was supposed to start her third year at Ben-Gurion University this year when she was abducted along with her boyfriend.
"I had met her mother Liora on a number of occasions. She is native to China and arrived with her husband Yaakov to the meetings. I told the ambassador: "I would like you to tell Xi Jinping that, beyond the protocols and rules, there is a girl here with a Chinese mother, and I personally ask that you personally involve yourself in her case, because her mother is not only pleading for Noa's life, but also for her own. She has advanced cancer, she tells me, and she only wants to see Noa one more time in the time she has remaining. The ambassador assured me that the message would reach Xi Jinping."
"I and my comrades are not sparing any effort, both publicly or privately, to recover the hostages. I have met with the Red Cross and handed their representative a box with some of the medications that some of the hostages seriously need to keep them alive. I asked that their representative take it to the Rafah border crossing and deliver it to Hamas. She refused. That was a very difficult conversation."
"I want to emphasize that we will check under every tree and rock to recover all the hostages. I look at every picture, and do not say this only as lip service, and you know that. This unites the nation, it is a holy mission, and I say once again that we will continue to put every effort into bringing them home.
"We would not have succeeded in freeing more than 100 hostages so far without military pressure. We will not succeed in freeing all the rest without both military and political pressure."
Families of the hostages shouted "Now, now!" throughout the Prime Minister's speech, to call for their loved ones to be recovered at the earliest opportunity.
Minister Benny Gantz addressed the families directly: "Your willingness to be here is a symbol of our bravery. It is the difference between us, raised on the words of Maimonides that there is no greater merit than freeing captives, and those who are raised to hate and destroy that which is different, against all the values of Islam."
"Our soldiers are deep in enemy territory as part of the mission to free the hostages. This goal, as I have said before, is at the top of our timetable. The Hamas threat will be removed. The hostages must be recovered as fast as possible. I have told you in our meetings that I bow my head in pain because we have not fulfilled our obligations to protect you. I raise it again when I recognize and know about the efforts that we are making to bring them back."
"I want to say, first of all, to the families, that all members of Knesset long for the return of the hostages, all the members of the Cabinet and the War Cabinet, coalition and opposition, all of us are as one person, united in our desire to see the hostages to our territory, even if there are disagreements the methods, we do not disagree as to the goal."
He called to prevent criticism of the families among lawmakers. "I asked to speak to deliver a message of pain that I have received from dozens of families of the hostages, as well as those who have returned, who are here and are working to bring the others home. It is impossible to describe the challenge that lies before them. The fears, the thoughts, and the hopes. I would like to tell them, even if we disagree with something said or an opinion expressed, we all must bow our heads and respect the dear families and their pain. We must listen to them, even if it is difficult, and to work to end the criticism of them and their representation as someone who is impeding the war and the IDF, who fights for them and for us. They deserve different treatment. They deserve that we fight for them, and we deserve to fight for our society."
"One way or the other, the one making the decisions is the leadership. The responsibility is ours. If there is legitimate criticism about the goals and actions of the war, it needs to be directed at us. The responsibility is on us, only us. We need to remember, that expressing an opinion, and working to recover the hostages in any way, is an inseparable part of us. of our Israeli and Jewish identity and our victory. There are families of hostages who have an opinion about the method and those who think differently. Any opinion must be treated with respect. Each of them deserves an embrace and unique understanding of what they are experiencing."
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana commented: "Eighty days have passed and your loved ones are held captive by terrorist organizations in Gaza. Eighty days in which you are going mad with worry. We cannot imagine what you are feeling, families. Many MKs, including myself, have met and heard you, here in the Knesset where you have become like our family, and in other places. We hear the roller coaster of emotions you feel about every news flash. The feelings oblige us, the members of the Knesset, to act with restraint, judgment, and unique understanding of what you are experiencing."
"This special day that we are holding in the Knesset, dear families, says to you: you are not alone. A whole notion is following the matter with worry, a whole nation longs and prays for your loved ones to return, and every Minister and member of Knesset here on the podium at my side is thinking of you."
"The Knesset has changed in these eighty days, and from a state of debate and disagreement has attempted, mostly successfully, to find unifying shared goals for all of us. Recovering all the hostages is such a goal for many of the members of the Knesset, in committee meetings, in legislation, here in the plenum, and outside the Knesset building. For many of us, we have begun to understand that while our soldiers are fighting to recover your loved ones, coalition and opposition must stand shoulder to shoulder, and find a common, unifying cause."
"A whole nation, including members of Knesset, longs to see your eyes, now red from lack of sleep, weeping with joy. To hear your throats, now hoarse from crying, shouting with happiness. A whole nation wants its sons and daughters home."