NEW YORK - As the war between Israel and Hamas nears its third month, the need for medical care for kidnapped hostages in Gaza is becoming more urgent. Family and friends of some of those taken hostage by Hamas, and recently released, are speaking out about what it's been like not knowing if their loved ones are safe or alive.
Merav Raviv is one of the family members who shared those stories at a private luncheon on the Upper East Side on Friday.
Ohad Munder is her relative, a nine-year-old boy who was held hostage for nearly 50 days. He has been seen in a video viewed millions of times around the world, running into his father’s arms reuniting at an Israeli hospital.
He was released with his 54-year-old mother Keren Munder and 78-year-old grandmother Ruth Munder. They were all taken from kibbutz Nir Oz.
"I feel much more comfortable and relaxed even though my uncle is still there," Raviv said.
Abraham Munder, also 78 years old, is among dozens of hostages not being given daily medication.
"Every minute counts," said Dr. Hila Gavrieli, a pediatrician in Tel Aviv. "Those are people who need medical help now."
She’d been helping her friend, Dr. Adva Gutman-Tirosh, an orthopedic surgeon, locate Gutman-Tirosh’s sister, Tamar Gutman. Together, the doctors are fighting for medical care for the hostages and for them to be released.
It was later learned that Tamar did not survive the Nova music festival massacre on October 7. Dr. Gutman-Tirosh can't help but wonder if her sister would be alive today had she received care.
Her own hospital treated Hamas terrorists.
"My colleagues treated them as they should and I'm proud of them and maybe one of them was the killer of my sister and I still believe that they did the right thing," Dr. Gutman-Tirosh said. "As doctors we swear to treat everyone. Even the most horrifying monster deserves human rights. And Hamas denies the rights of citizens."
Friends and family of Ofir Tzarfati are left with the same questions. His body was found a few days ago. He also attended the music festival and risked his life saving his girlfriend and others.
"The longer we wait, the less chance they have to live," said Roni Raviv, a representative for the family. "That’s the case we think happened with Ofir because he wasn’t treated well."
"We know he was injured when he was kidnapped," Dr. Gavrieli said. "It’s recorded. He returned as a body. We don’t have time."
The friends and family members are being hosted by an organization called BringThemHomeNow and through this tragedy, they’ve formed an extended family.
"We are a big family," Merav said. "What gives me hope is that I saw it can be done. They can be released."
With more than 120 hostages still being held, their bond as a newfound family will only grow stronger as they continue to fight to bring them home.