The following is a statement from Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington, in response to the agreement to release dozens of Israeli hostages held in captivity by Hamas since October 7:
“For 46 days, Israeli civilians have longed to hold their children and other relatives who were abducted during Hamas’ terrorist rampage. We share their tears of joy that they will soon be reunited and pray that families will never be separated again.
Our happiness for these families is tempered by the fact that Hamas will still be holding as many as 190 hostages once these women and children are freed. The Jewish community will not rest until Hamas releases every remaining hostage.
Unfortunately, there is every reason to expect that Hamas will use the temporary pause in Israel’s military campaign to regroup and re-arm. The international community must make every effort to prevent that from happening. Unlike Israel, Hamas proudly kidnaps innocent people, uses civilians as human shields and launches attacks from places like hospitals and schools — violations of human morality, not to mention international law. Under no circumstances can Hamas be permitted to replenish its weapons arsenal or be allowed to govern.
We envision and work to support a future where Israelis and Palestinians live side-by-side in peace. But that will only happen when Hamas is permanently dismantled and no longer has the means or ability to threaten the Jewish people or Palestinian civilians.”