Advocates, Politicians Rally for Release of Hostages in Gaza

Courtesy Katy Delgado

New York officials gathered with Run for Their Lives New York’s Long Island and Albany chapters to push for the release of 134 hostages, including six Americans, two of whom are from New York State, currently being held in Gaza.

Run for Their Lives, a prominent humanitarian organization, has been actively advocating for the victims of the ongoing hostage crisis in Gaza. The group holds weekly walks or runs of one kilometer in various locations worldwide to raise awareness about the situation.

Among the Americans still being held captive are two New Yorkers – Omer Neutra of Plainview, who is believed to still be alive, and Itay Chen of Brooklyn, who lost his life on Oct. 7 and whose body is still being held by Hamas.

“The 134 innocent hostages of this cowardly terrorist attack deserve to be released from captivity immediately,” State Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James) said. “The victims of this heinous attack must never be forgotten and by continuing to join together, the leaders of Run for Their Lives are making sure they are not. I had the honor of joining the Commack organizers of Run for their Lives recently and I thank the organizers of all the rallies across our state, our nation and the world in support of those who were abducted in the October 7th terrorist attacks.”

The rally speakers emphasized the urgency of the situation, calling for action to end the captivity of innocent civilians. 

Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for immediate action to ensure the safe return of the hostages.

State Sen. Steven Rhoads (R-Wantagh) condemned the capture of hostages as a violation of international law, stressing the need for their unconditional release. 

“Regardless of anyone’s views on the October 7th attack or the Israeli response, there should be universal condemnation of the capture and taking of hostages – a war crime that violates both international law and the terms of the Geneva Convention.,” Rhoads said. “Today marks 179 days of captivity of 134 unarmed mothers, father, sons and daughters, of the elderly and infirm – whose only crime was quietly living their lives and are now being held and used, against their will, as pawns. I am proud to stand with Run For Their Lives in calling for an end to this unconscionable practice and demand that the international community compel the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. International Law and the bounds of human decency demand it.”

Kurt Roth, speaking on behalf of Run For Their Lives Commack, highlighted the personal impact of the crisis, expressing hope for the safe return of all hostages, including his son’s friend, Omer Neutra.

“After October 7th, my family was devastated to learn that my son’s best friend, Omer Neutra, was taken hostage,” Roth said. “Since that time, we have been leading a group in Commack, NY every Sunday to keep the attention on the hostage crisis.  We hold out hope that all of the hostages will be released immediately and that Omer will be able to hug his family and our son once again.”