‘He’s not on the list’: Sister of teenage Gaza hostage waits for news

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Mika Shani was staying at a friend’s place when Hamas gunmen entered Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, where her family lived, killing at least 130 people as the sun rose and taking dozens of others hostage – including her 16-year-old brother Amit.

She was texting her mother and sisters as their home was invaded.

Mika Shani standing next to an effigy representing her 16-year-old brother Amit, who is being held by Hamas.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“[My mother] begged … ‘take me instead, take me instead’, she tried to explain to them that he is not a soldier, that he is a teen boy,” Shani said.

“She screamed at him ‘don’t be afraid, we will get you out, I love you’ … I don’t know why they didn’t kill all of them, but they just left [my mother and sisters] on the grass.”

Eight weeks later, Mika is standing on the lawn in front of Parliament House surrounded by cardboard silhouettes of hostages, part of a delegation flown to Canberra by the Israeli government to raise awareness of the plight of hostage families.

Other delegations have been dispatched to the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe to drum up support for the Israeli cause as the unfolding catastrophe within Gaza captures international attention.

While Hamas militants killed at least 1200 people in southern Israel in the October 7 attacks, according to Israel, the current toll in Gaza is 14,800, the territory’s Ministry of Health says, even as the fragile ceasefire is extended by another two days.

Israel agreed to the ceasefire to procure the release of 50 hostages, all women and children.

Mika, 18, has been desperately checking for updates on the fate of her brother, as she originally believed he would be freed because he was not yet 18.

“This morning I got the call,” she said. “My mum called me and said that he’s not on the list.”

Members of the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group, including Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, met the delegates in the morning, and were expecting to have a meeting in the afternoon with senior members of government, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“[The] aim is to get the support of the Australian people and the Australian government for Israel’s actions in wiping out Hamas”, said Elad Levy, the uncle of 19-year-old Roni Eshel who was later declared murdered by Hamas.

The Israeli military confirmed 11 hostages had been released by Hamas late on Monday (Tuesday AEDT), the fourth release under the ceasefire deal.

Elad Levy, the uncle of 19-year-old Roni Eshel who was killed by Hamas on October 7.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain called for a permanent and lasting truce, and a dramatic increase in the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“This is in our view an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, that the scale and magnitude of it is only becoming apparent, as we’ve experienced these past four days of pause in conflict,” she said, addressing a Parliament House press conference.

“The Australian government has to date committed $25 million, the UN estimated need is $1.2 billion.”

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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