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Israel, 21 other countries call for immediate release of hostages

Tel Aviv: Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs Eli Cohen and 22 ambassadors and diplomats from countries whose citizens have been abducted have called for the immediate release of the abductees and to permit visits by the International Red Cross.
Cohen said the release of the abductees is Israel's "foremost priority."
The Israeli military said on Thursday that nearly 30 of some 200 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are children. More than 10 are over the age of 60, a statement by the Israeli military said adding that authorities have no information about the location of more than 100 missing Israelis.
Cohen held a meeting with dozens of foreign ambassadors whose citizens have been held by Hamas in Gaza and asked to pressurise Hamas to ensure their smooth release. Ambassadors from Peru, Tanzania, Russia, Romania, Portugal, Argentina, Philippines, Georgia, Sri Lanka, France, Mexico, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Ethiopia, Serbia, Columbia, Italy, Thailand, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and the European Union participated in the meeting.
Taking to X, Cohen reposted Israel Hebrew's statement on X stating, "We demand that the international organizations and the Red Cross reach out to the abductees in order to verify their condition and the conditions in which they are being held."
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs @elicoh1 together with 22 ambassadors and diplomats from countries that have abductees, calling for the immediate release of the abductees and to allow visits by the Red Cross. The meeting was attended by ambassadors from Tanzania, Russia, Romania, Portugal, Peru, Serbia, Colombia, Austria, Ethiopia, Argentina, Philippines, Georgia, Sri Lanka, France, Mexico, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Thailand, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and the European Union," he added.
Cohen termed the crimes of Hamas "unforgivable" and stressed that the kidnapping of civilians, including babies, children, women and Holocaust survivors, is against every international law and every human norm, according to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.
He said, "We will do everything in our power to release the abductees, regardless of their citizenship." He further said, "In cooperation with the other countries whose citizens are missing, we will be able to exert significant international pressure on the Hamas terrorist organization for the return of all the abductees."
As many as 4,834 people in Israel have been hospitalized since the terror group Hamas's attack in southern Israel, in which some 1,400 were murdered and at least 203 were kidnapped to Gaza, The Times of Israel reported.
On Friday, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that it struck several more sites belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon overnight in response to rocket and missile fire on northern Israel, The Times of Israel reported. Meanwhile, the IDF said it carried out a drone strike killing a terror operative in the area.

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