June 8, 2024
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New Yorkers Rally at U.N. Before Security Council Meeting

Ayelet Samerano

On May 16, freed hostages and hostage family members addressed a U.N. Security Council meeting focused on the hostages. New Yorkers came out to support these brave individuals before they entered the meeting.

Shockingly, or unfortunately perhaps not shockingly, this was the first Security Council meeting focused solely on the hostages. As stated by Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, former vice president of the United Nations Commission on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, “I am here today to brief the Security Council [for] the first Security Council meeting which is dedicated to the hostages.

“Think about it, more than 220 days and the Security Council did not see fit to devote a meeting to talk about the most egregious, the harshest, the most severe breach and violation of international human rights law,” she added.

Halperin-Kaddari continued, “The international human rights community has failed us in safeguarding our rights and the rights of our brothers and sisters who have been held in captivity for more than 220 days. I’m here to call upon the Security Council to do everything that is in its powers to finally designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, to issue sanctions against Hamas and against all the countries that assist Hamas so that the violation of the human rights, of the hostages and their families, it will be put to end.”

Gili Roman

Gili Roman, a relative of hostage Carmel Gat, remarked: “Thanks to the U.S., Germany and a few other countries, the U.N. is holding a special informal discussion, but we’ll take what we have and we’ll start with that. More than 20 countries are going to come today to hear us speak.”

The meeting coincided with Gat’s 40th birthday, for which she is in captivity. Roman told those gathered: “We hope that every blessing and every song and every intention that we are showing here will get back to her somehow.”

Of the crowd’s support, Roman stated: “It’s so important for us to see you here before we enter, to see the Israeli flag, to see your shirts, to see your presence.”

Also expressing her gratitude for the crowd’s support was Leat Corinne Unger, cousin of hostage Omer Shem Tov. Stated Unger: “I don’t have any words left to say except thank you, because it feels like there’s nothing left to say except to be grateful for your presence. You are what helps me really get out of bed and continue fighting.”

Ayelet Samerano, whose son Yonatan’s body is being held captive by Hamas, stated that she came to the U.N. “to make them start doing their job.”

According to her published remarks, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, stated at the meeting: “Bring home every single hostage from more than 20 countries, who have been held against their will in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Hamas murdered over 1,200 people, raped and maimed hundreds more, including the bodies of the dead, and abducted over 240 people, including women, children and the elderly. This includes six U.S. citizens who are still being held hostage: Edan Alexander, Itai Chen, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Omer Neutra, Keith Siegal and Hersh Goldberg-Polin.”

As Yonatan’s mother Ayelet told the crowd before she entered the meeting: “I hope I will get my son soon with all of the other 131 kidnapped.”


Judith Falk is the creator of the Upper West Side Shtetl Facebook group. You can follow her on instagram @upperwestsideshtetl. She is a lawyer by day and a former legal reporter.

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