'Don't hurt them', father of kidnapped Israeli family shares video pleading with Hamas

Monday 9 October 2023

A devastated father whose wife and two young children were kidnapped by Hamas has pleaded for their safe return.

Israeli Yoni Asher's wife Doron and daughters Raz and Aviv were snatched whilst visiting their grandmother near the border with Gaza after militants launched an unprecedented incursion into the territory.

More than 700 people have been killed in the fighting since Saturday, according to reports.

Mr Asher recognised his family after seeing a video posted to social media by militants driving them away in a pickup truck.

Begging for their return, he pleaded: "Don't hurt women, don't hurt little children. I want to ask Hamas, don't hurt them. If you want me instead, I am willing to come."

As militants surrounded his mother-in-law's home his panicked wife telephoned and said: "Terrorists [were] inside the house".

Israeli Doron Asher was kidnapped by Hamas near the border with Gaza

Speaking to reporters, Mr Asher said: "The last 24 hours were very difficult, I try to stay strong.

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"It's not simple to know that your two babies and your wife, your entire family, the most precious thing you have, is captive."

Mr Asher said he has faith in Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to return his family to safety.

Unconfirmed reports suggest Ms Asher's phone has been tracked to an unconfirmed location in Gaza.

Aviv Asher, 3, was kidnapped while visiting her grandmother's house

"I'm trying to believe that something will happen," he said. "That somehow my country Israel, my prime minister, my government will do something to bring them back as soon as possible

"Babies are babies, women are women. You can release them first and then maybe later negotiate about other things."

The family joins a growing list of citizens of all ages taken in early morning raids by Hamas in villages in Israel along the Gaza border.

The group claims to have taken 163 Israelis hostage and taken them back to Gaza.

Yoni Asher's daughter Raz, 5, who was taken by Hamas militants

There are fears the prisoners could be used as human shields to prevent retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza or used as leverage to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have reported they are battling the militants street-by-street to regain control of the seized territory.

Among the areas targeted by Hamas over the weekend was a dance festival celebrating peace.

At least 260 bodies have been removed from the site of the Supernova music festival near Re'im, in the south.