The brother of an Israeli who was taken hostage by Hamas has said he was “very afraid” to come to the UK.
Tuval Haim’s younger brother Yotam, 28, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza in southern Israel on October 7.
Mr Haim, 31, said he did not know whether his brother was “alive or dead”, adding “we only know that on the day of the kidnap he was not injured when he got to the car”.
He said the release of Israeli hostages from Gaza had given him “hope”, but added that male hostages were a “bigger negotiating card” for Hamas.
Mr Haim told the PA news agency in London on Tuesday: “I was very afraid to come to the UK because of what I’ve seen on social media, and what I see on the BBC is very scary.
“At first we said: ‘let’s not talk in Hebrew and not tell people that we are from Israel.’
“It’s very hard to say those things. It’s like you’re going back to the Europe of the 1940s.”
Mr Haim, who lives in Israel, said witnessing the rally against antisemitism on Sunday in London was “very emotional”.
He added: “It feels like we need to prove to the world that this evil happened to us.
“People try to twist the reality because they cannot believe it’s real. But it is.”
Mr Haim said his brother, a drummer in the heavy metal band Persephore, was a “sensitive soul” and had a “great sense of humour”.
The 31-year-old, also a musician who performs with Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzilai’s band, added that he had dedicated songs to his brother.
Another family member of a kidnapped Israeli said he wanted the UK Government to do more to help provide updates on the hostages.
Aviram Meir, whose nephew Almog Meir-Jan was kidnapped from a music festival in southern Israel on October 7, said: “I know they are involved, but I think they’re not doing enough.”
He said he wanted the UK Government to put pressure on the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide more information on the medical situation of the hostages.
“We demand the UK Government take action with the Red Cross as it’s not doing its job.”
Mr Meir and Mr Haim were in the UK under the auspices of the MirYam Institute, a forum for discussion on Israel that has introduced family members of hostages to MPs.
Shahar Mor, from Tel Aviv, was reunited with four members of his family who were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz.
His aunt, Ruti Munder, 78, was released with her daughter and grandson, Ohad Munder, aged nine. Her husband, Avraham, 78, is still missing.
Mr Mor told reporters at Israel’s embassy in London on Tuesday that he last heard news of his uncle weeks ago when he discovered he had been injured as Hamas terrorists took him to Gaza on the back of a motorbike.
He told reporters: “It cannot be finished without repatriation of the family and those who are still missing.
“It’s not a time for celebration. They are worried sick – think about a nine-year-old boy coming back after the seven horrid weeks.
“His uncle was killed and his grandfather is missing.
“Coming back to a certain reality is impossible.
“They thought he was dead. Avraham is 78, he used a walking stick and he walks very slowly. How could he get to Gaza?”
Describing the conditions his family experienced, Mr Mor said there were some “humane gestures” from their captors.
He said: “They ate with the captors – they made food and everybody ate. They tried to give them as much as possible but food was getting scarcer and scarcer as weeks went by.
“They gave them a deck of cards so they can pass the time – so there was some humane gestures.
“Yeah, they gave them a deck of cards – but they could have given my cousin life instead of taking it. That’s more important than a deck of cards or a bowl of rice.”
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