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Families Organize To Keep Hostages in the Public Eye


When the alarms sounded at 6:30 a.m. on October 7 near her home in central Israel, Shelly Shem Tov was not immediately concerned. “We are in a crazy country where the bombs are regular,” she told herself. Nevertheless, Shem Tov called her son Omer, 21, whom she’d seen the day before—her 50th birthday—shortly before he headed off to a music festival. Her youngest child assured her he was fine. Then Omer called back, he and his friends were trying to escape; they were running for the car. Shem Tov tracked her son on his phone and could see his location live. Something wasn’t right; the car was going in the wrong direction, into Gaza. 

By midday on October 7, Emilie Moatti’s phone was exploding with messages from people all over the world asking what they could do to help. The onetime member of the Knesset for the Israeli Labor Party and peace activist did not yet have any idea of the size and scope of the catastrophe. What she did know, because she knew the actors in the government, was that nothing was going to happen if she didn’t do something. “Call your colleagues,” she told her husband Daniel Shek, the former Israeli ambassador to France. “Tell them to come home. We are starting a headquarters.”

On October 8, Rebecca Shafrir and her husband Gideon were watching a news program from their…

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