Relatives and a friend of Israelis kidnapped and killed by Hamas visit Australia’s Parliament House


Relatives and a friend of Israelis kidnapped and killed by Hamas visited Australia’s Parliament House on Tuesday, sharing personal stories in an effort to lobby for international support for all hostages to be freed – and to support Israel’s war effort. The group of five will meet political leaders during a two-day visit in Canberra. They are also expected to share their experiences with members of the community in Sydney and Melbourne during a weeklong Australian trip.

“Our aim first is to get the hostages back, all of them,” Elad Levy, 49, told reporters outside the Parliament House. Levy’s niece, Roni Eshel, was a 19-year-old soldier initially thought kidnapped during Hamas’ Oct. 7 incursion into Israel but confirmed dead weeks later. “Our second aim is to get the support of the Australian people and the Australian government … for Israel’s actions in wiping out Hamas and in our military actions right now to eradicate Hamas,” Levy added.

Australia’s major political parties have supported Israel’s right to defend itself but have urged Israel to comply with international law by containing non-combatant casualties in Gaza. Israel has agreed to temporary, humanitarian pauses in its military operations in Gaza in exchange for the gradual release of hostages. The agreement had been due to expire Monday but was extended for an additional two days. Iris Haim, 57, whose son Yotam Haim, 28, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, described “the process of waiting” as psychological terror” for families.


“It’s psychological terror because they don’t give the names until the last minute. We wait in fear,” Haim said. She said she hoped the cease-fire would hold until all the hostages were released. Mika Shani, 18, said her mother, Tal Shani, called Tuesday morning to say her kidnapped brother Amit Shani, who turned 16 in captivity, was not listed among the hostages to be freed. The boy was the only family member to be snatched by Hamas during an attack on their home in Kibbutz Be’eri. “It’s been so frustrating. Every day, like, maybe today is the day. Maybe today he’s going to get out,” Mika Shani said.

Ofir Tamir, 26, said his kidnapped friend, Noa Argamani, who is also 26, had been caring for her mother, Loira Argamani, who suffered incurable brain cancer. “The mother doesn’t have a lot of time or a lot of strength,” Tamir said. Tali Kizhner’s 22-year-old son, Segev Kizhner, was killed at the same Nova music festival where Argamani was taken. “It was not a matter of religion, it was not a matter of gender,” Tali Kizhner said. “They simply came to kill everybody,” the 50-year-old mom added.