Ronen and Orna Neutra, the parents of Omer Neutra, who is being held hostage in Gaza, joined Arutz Sheva - Israel National News to talk about their ordeal since their son was taken captive.

Orna recounted how they first found out about Omer being taken: “He was defending the kibbutzim in the south. We thought ‘he is on active duty, maybe he is just too busy to answer’, but as the hours went by with no sign from him, we knew something was really wrong. By Sunday night, we had notice from the consulate that he had been kidnapped.”

Ronen added that the last knowledge they had of Omer had been a social media message. “We saw a video of him and his team being taken out of the tank. They look in good condition, but since then, we have had no signs of life. It’s been eighty-four days. It’s unbearable, this notion that we don’t know anything about him - is he getting fed? Is he drinking? What is his medical condition? Does he have air?”

Orna said the couple are both hoping and working to see Omer alive again. “We have no choice but to hope that he is alive. From the first day, we were driven to action. We immediately drafted a letter to the US government, notifying them of the situation and requesting their action. Since then, we have been doing everything we can to help get him back. We are his soldiers now.”

Ronen noted the outrageous nature of how Omer was taken. “More than two hundred people were taken, from their beds, from their morning routines, people out biking or jogging. Omer was not engaged in combat at the time, his role was a defensive deployment. Hamas does not allow the Red Cross access to them - it simply holds them, without releasing any information, and we can only sit and wait.”

“People need to understand that it really can happen. Italy, for example, could disappear. It starts here, but it will spread. Our son, an American-born citizen, was taken.”

The couple have also traveled to the United States of America to raise awareness for the hostages and spoke at a mass rally for Israel in Washington D.C. Additionally, they have called on United States citizens from around the world to call their Representatives and Senators and ask that they push for the hostages to be released.

Ronen praised the response of the Biden administration to the crisis: “The Biden administration was very quick to respond. We spoke with him personally, and he is making the hostage situation a top priority. We met with CIA Director Burns and Vice-President Harris. There are a lot of people on the American side trying to free the hostages, although, unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet.”

Orna said that the couple were scheduled to meet with members of the Knesset in the near future. “There is a story behind these numbers. Every hostage has a story that needs to be completed. They’re in the position to make the decisions and policies.”

Ronen says that sympathy from th Knesset will not be enough: “Everyone is very sympathetic to us. We don’t need that - we need action. We know there are hard moments ahead, and what we need is for people to say ‘Those people over there are the top priority’. If there is a deal on the table, we cannot allow it to fall through because of any political disagreement.”

Orna noted the moral obligation of the government to the hostages: “There are women, there are elderly people, there are children. There are soldiers there, who were defending people. The state has an obligation to bring them back, all of them.”

Ronen recounted some of the prayer initiatives that he has seen for the hostages: “In America, many of the synagogues have begun setting out empty chairs with the names of the hostages on them. Omer grew up in a religious school, and they pray for him daily. While he was growing up, he himself would pray for other captured Israeli soldiers.”

The parents recounted Omer’s unique personality: “He was an icebreaker. He would take the tension out of a room, with a big smile. He was captain of his soccer team, his volleyball team, and his basketball team. He always had the role of bringing his people together. He was the regional president of his youth group, and kids kept writing to us to say that he saw them at events and would make them feel comfortable. He was really a team leader.”

“He was also a typical American kid - he loved the MBA and NFL, he knew all the stats, he would play fantasy basketball. He loved goofing around, hip-hop, and Omer Adam. We need him back.”