Congressional Members Press for Hamas to Release Hostages

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Omer Neutra is a 22 year-old Bighamton University student. He is one of a handful of Americans that are still held hostage by Hamas. We spoke with congressional members about the hostage situation and what they think it will take for Hamas to release them.  

“The only information that we have were of the hostages that were released and that was in late November and their encounters and what they went through in captivity is a nightmare,” said Orna and Ronen Neutra. They haven’t heard from their son, Omer, since the day before Hamas attacked Israel in October. Omer, an American-Israeli citizen, took a gap year from school to join Israel’s military. He was patrolling in the southern border the day he was captured.  

“Omer is one of too many that is being held hostage by Hamas,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro (R- NY). “A Binghamton University college student from Long Island and frankly like all those others need to come home.” 

Congressional members said their focus is on getting Neutra and the other approximately 130 remaining hostages back home.  

“We must do everything in our power to secure the release of these Americans,” said Rep. Nick Langworthy (R- NY). “Including standing strong with Israel in their fight against Hamas.” 

The New York Times reports that Hamas does not have 40 living hostages in Gaza that meet the criteria for an exchange under a proposed cease-fire agreement. It raises concerns that more hostages might be dead than previously believed.  

“As these people are being held their chances of surviving are being less and less,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY).  

Senator Gillibrand thinks Hamas won’t give up the hostages that easily. 

“I think they have to be coerced by some of these other Arab allies,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “I think they- Hamas’ intention is a one-hundred-year war so they don’t want a ceasefire. If they have a ceasefire they want to use it to rearm themselves and resupply themselves. They know that these hostages are valuable and so they don’t want to release the hostages.” 

Members said Hamas is preventing international organizations from providing medical care to hostages and believe many are being tortured, starved and assaulted. 

“Their barbaric treatment of these hostages is inexcusable,” said Rep. Molinaro. 

Members believe about five Americans are still held hostage.