This is one of two articles featuring voices from Israel and Gaza to mark 100 days of the CBS News producer Marwan al-Ghoul on 100 “miserable” days in Gaza.. Please also read:
One hundred days since Hamas attacked southern Israel, sparking the deadliest war to date between the country and the group that has ruled the Gaza Strip for almost two decades, Gil Dickmann’s 39-year-old cousin is among the 136 hostages still believed to be held captive in the Gaza Strip, and he isn’t sure what’s going on.
“Now we feel desperate,” Dickmann told CBS News. “The whole point, as they told us, of the second stage of the war, of moving in through the ground, was in order to get the hostages back… and the hostages aren’t here.”
Dickmann’s cousin, Carmel Gat, was visiting her parents at a kibbutz in southern Israel where they lived when Hamas militants stormed through the Gaza border on Oct. 7, raided the community and killed Gat’s mother. They took Gat and her sister-in-law, Yarden Roman-Gat, captive.
Roman-Gat wasin a prisoner swap during a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but Gat was not.
“We really, really hoped that on the eighth day of the cease-fire we were also going to get Carmel back, my cousin,” Dickmann said. “But just the day before her time came, the deal collapsed.”
“They forgot about us”
Despite rising international pressure to scale back its military response to the Hamas attack, Israel has vowed to complete its mission to dismantle the group and says it will take at least the rest of this year to do so. One of the Israeli government’s stated priorities is to secure the release of the remaining hostages, but there has been no indication that any breakthrough is expected imminently.
Dickmann is one of hundreds of family members of the hostages who have been waiting, hoping, and pressing to get them back, and he has become increasingly disillusioned and angry with the progress made by Israel’s government, military and international partners.
“We were told that the goal of the war was to get the hostages back, and I know that there’s another goal for the war, that should be the annihilation of Hamas. It’s been 100 days, and Hamas is still there, and the hostages are still there, so something must [have gone] wrong,” Dickmann told CBS News. “As a person, I don’t believe in war as a solution to anything, but they promised that that was the way of getting the hostages back. If it doesn’t work, well, maybe you should try another way. And I don’t know if they’re trying another way.”
Dickmann says he and the other relatives of the remaining hostages haven’t received much information from officials, and they’re worried that discussions about what might happen after the war is over mean their family members aren’t a primary concern.
“They forgot about us,” he said. “I’m really trying to get answers, and I don’t really receive them because they’re just telling me to wait.”
CBS News sought comment for this story from a representative for the Israeli government official appointed to manage the situation with the hostages but received no reply by the time of publication. On Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that “despite all the complexities in the ongoing operation and the different obstacle posed by Hamas, the IDF remains committed to returning all Israeli hostages and dismantling Hamas.”
“So many people on both sides of the border”
Dickmann says his perspective on what can and can’t be done to get the hostages home has changed since the start of the war.
“If you asked me three months ago if a deal between Israel and Hamas is possible, I’d tell you, ‘I don’t think so.’ But now we know it’s possible because there was a deal between Israel and Hamas. We know that it’s something that can actually happen.”
About 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’ attack on southern Israel, according to Israeli officials, with more than 200 taken hostage. 136 people currently remain in captivity in Gaza, the Israeli army says.
Over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths, and tens of thousands more have been displaced in what the U.N. calls a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Dickmann says the violence has been too much and gone on for too long.
“I’m devastated by it. I don’t think it’s a solution for anything. I don’t believe in war, and I don’t care for war. I don’t think anyone in our family wanted this war to start. All we wanted is to get Carmel, my cousin, back home and to get all the other hostages back home,” Dickmann said.
“I really hate the fact that the lives of so many people on both sides of the border are lost. I hate it, and I hate being part of it. I don’t know how to stop it, and I don’t know if the thing to do is to get the hostages back and then deal with it, or do it diplomatically, I don’t know. But I know that this must stop.”
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