The rally this evening
The rally this eveningAdar Eyal

Dr. Ayelet Levy Shachar and Yoni Levy, parents of hostage Naama Levy who marks her 20th birthday after 260 days in Hamas captivity, addressed the crowd at Hostages Square this evening.

"Today, I didn't want to make a speech in the square. I just wanted to wish Naama happy birthday, to speak to you, Naama, hoping you might hear, wishing these words reach you,'' Ayelet began. ''Naamonet, everything stands still while time somehow keeps moving. Everything is waiting for you, waiting for your rescue. The things I wrote and wished for you on your birthday morning a year ago are still waiting for you today. I want to send you those same words now. Today, I add and wish for you the most basic right that you deserve as a human being - your freedom, which was taken from you eight and a half months ago."

Yoni added: "My Noni, Look how many people came to celebrate your birthday. So many people! 20th birthday. What a beautiful number, 20. So young. Full of hope. Full of future. A number of youth, light, and joy And the beginning of life's journey. And you, my Noni, All light and joy."

"I remember your laughter and can hear your voice, imagining exactly what you'd be doing today. We would have prepared a table for you, full of sweets, balloons, and gifts. Like every year.

"How happy this day could have been. Instead, you're there. In darkness. For 260 days already. And we stand here. Tens of thousands of people with yellow balloons. The color of the struggle for your release and the release of 119 other hostages. And the sweets have no taste, and there's no desire for gifts.

"All we want is you here with us. At home. In recent months, they've been talking about absolute victory. The absolute victory. Indeed - strong words. We all love to win. Nobody likes to lose. Believe me, neither do I.

"Two weeks ago, in a heroic operation, our brave security forces brought back four hostages to the country. How tall we stood. How much joy we felt. What a victory! It's no secret, and we all understand that 120 hostages cannot be returned through military operations. We must honestly say - 120 hostages will only return home through a deal.

"True. It's not easy. But try to imagine what a victory it would be to see everyone at home! What a victory! This reality we've all been living in since October 7th best reflects who we are - as Jews and Israelis. A harsh and cruel reality. But one that's full of values of the sanctity of life. Courage, resourcefulness, and mutual responsibility.

"And I want to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister: Victory in war is not just victory in military battles. And it's not just preserving the coalition at any cost. Victory in war is the ability to preserve the values of this nation, years ahead. And victory is the ability to continue being faithful to our values as Jews and Israelis. Victory is preserving the values of camaraderie. Mutual responsibility and the sacred Jewish value: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself. Always. In any situation"

"And I turn to you from here, Mr. Prime Minister, from this stage. On my daughter Naama's 20th birthday, who has been held hostage in Gaza for 260 days - and I demand of you: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love my Naama as yourself. Care for my daughter and all the hostages, exactly as you love and care for yourself. Exactly as you love and care for yourself.

"Bring my child home."