On World Children’s Day, a day dedicated to promoting and celebrating children’s rights, a poignant irony unfolded as Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv and New York, united in their outcry against the United Nations’ glaring silence. Their grievance? The UN’s inaction and indifference towards the tragic plight of 40 children and babies held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
These demonstrations, held outside the offices of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, were a powerful testament to the frustration and pain felt by the families of these innocent lives, snatched away during Hamas’ brutal massacre on October 7. The protestors’ message was clear and urgent: “Where are the rights of our children?”
The heart-wrenching plea of Hadas Calderon, a mother whose two children, Erez and Sahar, are among those held captive, echoed amidst the crowds. Her call to action, “UNICEF, wake up!” resonated deeply, highlighting the organization’s failure to address this humanitarian crisis.
Yoni Asher, another affected parent, poignantly questioned the UN’s commitment to protecting children’s rights, given its deafening silence on this critical issue. The protests were marked by a disturbing reality as air raid sirens from Gaza interrupted the Tel Aviv rally, underscoring the ongoing threat and urgency of the situation.
The rallies saw a diverse gathering, including prominent Israeli figures, advocates for children’s rights, and individuals deeply moved by the hostages’ ordeal. Among them was Shai Gross, the youngest hostage in the 1976 Entebbe hijacking, whose presence and personal recollections added a profound depth to the event.
The call for action extended beyond the streets, with Israeli photographer Ziv Koren creating a poignant exhibit at a Toys “R” Us store, displaying toys recovered from the ruins of Kibbutz Be’eri, home to 11 child hostages. This visual reminder of the innocence lost and the ongoing suffering of these children and their families was deeply moving.
In a parallel effort, the Israeli Association for Early Childhood launched a compelling video campaign. Superhero toys, each representing a different country, were shown alongside a child in a terrorist tunnel, draped in an Israeli flag. The powerful imagery and message implored the global community to awaken and act for the freedom of these young hostages.
At the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with the families, reaffirming the gravity of this atrocity. He emphasized that kidnapping children is a barbaric act, a violation of all international norms, and a blatant exploitation of these young lives.
These events, occurring amidst reports of a potential hostage deal, highlight a crucial narrative: the resilience and unity of the Israeli people in their quest for justice and the safe return of their children. It is a call to the world, a demand for action, and a reminder that the fight for children’s rights knows no boundaries.
Israel’s unwavering commitment to its citizens, especially its children, is a beacon of hope and strength. It’s a nation that stands firm in its values, persistently advocating for the rights and safety of its youngest and most vulnerable, even in the face of international neglect. As Israelis rally for their children, they remind us all of the power of unified voices demanding change and justice.