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Las Vegas walk seeks return of Israeli hostages

Updated January 14, 2024 - 6:01 pm

Close to a hundred people walked in Summerlin on Sunday to mark 100 days since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the taking of hostages, many of whom are still being held captive.

“The community is very worried about the conditions of those hostages,” said Ofra Etzion, regional director of the Israeli American Council, Las Vegas. “We decided to show solidarity.”

Carrying red balloons and wearing yellow ribbons, both of which symbolize the plight of the hostages, the group walked quietly through downtown Summerlin. The west Las Vegas location was chosen because many community members live in the area, Etzion said.

About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and about 250 hostages were taken when Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel on Oct. 7. More than 100 hostages were released in November, but 132 remain in captivity, including the remains of about two dozen who died or were killed, according to The Associated Press.

Since then Israel’s military response has included airstrikes and ground operations, with over 23,000 people reported killed in Gaza. South Africa last week formally accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, an accusation that Israel has vehemently rejected.

“This is an upside-down world — the state of Israel is accused of genocide while it is fighting genocide,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement. “The hypocrisy of South Africa screams to the heavens.”

The Las Vegas walk mirrored larger protests in Israel, with families of the hostages leading a 24-hour rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

Another was set for Sunday in Jerusalem and similar events were scheduled in other cities around the world including New York, London and Paris.

“Our heart is for the Israeli civilians that got killed,” Etzion said. “We just hope that this war will … end very soon, with the hostages back.”

Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff, 68, who attended the event, echoed these hopes for the hostages. “We will get you back, and we love you,” Chesnoff said.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com. Contact Daniel Pearson at dpearson@reviewjournal.com. The Associated Press and Review-Journal intern Peter S. Levitt contributed to this report.

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