Sunday marked 100 days since about 240 hostages were taken from Israel to Gaza during the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, launching the Israel-Hamas war, now entering its fourth month.
While hostages were released in November in an agreement between Israel and Hamas, as of Jan. 9, Israeli military officials say 132 people are still being held in Gaza. On Tuesday, Hamas reported that two of the hostages were confirmed dead.
Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Alana Hurov worked alongside Perla Zaltzman, wife of Chabad Rabbi Shneur Zalman, and Rose Campbell to organize a walk in solidarity with those remaining hostages on Sunday.
The walk, called Run For Their Lives, is “not political, it’s really about humanity,” Zaltzman told The Lake Report.
About 70 people gathered at Canada Games Park in St. Catharines to show their support for the release of the hostages.
Run For Their Lives was started by Rachel Goldberg, mother of one of the hostages, American-Israeli citizen Hersh Goldberg-Polin.
Zaltzman said that when she heard people were walking in solidarity she wanted to create a space to do so in Niagara.
“What (Rachel) has done, I was very, very moved by,” Zaltzman said through tears.
“I just feel hurt in my heart. I want her to have her son back,” she said.
Following words from some participants — including a speech from NOTL Deputy Lord Mayor Erwin Wiens in which he spoke of his support for the hostages’ return and Campbell’s reading of Rachel Goldberg’s poem “A Tiny Seed” — the names and ages of the hostages were read out loud.
“I think everybody can get behind the goal of releasing hostages. They are innocent people that don’t have a stake in it,” Wiens told the crowd.
All participants then walked the indoor track for 18 minutes, many wearing photos of the hostages and some carrying the Israeli flag.
Campbell said that aside from raising awareness and supporting the global initiative to bring them home, the walk provided a safe space for people in the community who are feeling isolated by the rise in antisemitism.
“There are a lot of people who feel like there’s nothing they can do,” she said.
Campbell added that the act of being there to walk feels like “we are doing something,” she said.
“We just wanted it to be about the hostages and about bringing them home,” she said.