It was Saturday morning. I was at home in central Israel. My wife, Doron, wasn’t with me. She was with our two baby daughters, five-year-old Raz and three-year-old Aviv, at her mother’s house down in the south.
She called and told me people were entering the house and she could hear gunshots. So they all locked down in the safe room.
We disconnected the call so as not to risk her safety. She was whispering and it was terrifying. After that, I didn’t speak to her. We lost contact. It was a few nerve-racking hours before I eventually saw a nine-second video in the media of my wife and two daughters.
They were on some kind of vehicle as one of the captors put a cover on my wife’s head. I immediately recognized my older daughter Raz with her little purple dress. All around them, the attackers were shouting “Allahu akbar”. At that moment, I knew they’d been abducted.
I can’t find the right words to describe a father’s feeling in a moment like that. I felt all of the energy leaving my body. My eyes refused to see what they were watching. If you are a parent, no words can sufficiently describe what it feels like. I was helpless, frustrated. It feels like you want to drop dead.
The only thing I can do now is talk to anyone that I can. Just talk and talk. Show people photos of my beautiful babies and let them know my daughters need to go to kindergarten; they need to be in their home and to play and to eat. I don’t know what their condition is.
So that’s all I can do: Talk. Show anyone who will listen.
I don’t have any training in diplomacy or security so I don’t have any answers in that area. I just want someone to hear, someone to listen, someone to see. Look at the photos. Look at their eyes. Those are babies. Those are my babies.
We are in contact with the Israeli authorities and know that they are making efforts. We try to get concrete information. It’s not a simple thing and it won’t be resolved quickly. It’s hard to get things moving.
I haven’t slept or eaten for days. There are people here with me to help. But what can I do?
What have these babies had to do with the war? I want the international community to realize there is no connection between those babies and the war. They should put pressure on Hamas or whoever has them to just release them.
They can’t be in captivity for a long time. They won’t survive. They are babies and they have needs.
I am begging people. I will do anything they want. I will offer myself instead. They can take me and do whatever they want, right now. But that’s the only thing I can do.
I want the Israeli authorities to act in order to protect my family and the other hostages, and to bring them back. I’m sure that they are.
It’s vital to understand that my wife has German citizenship. I approached the German authorities and I expect them to put some pressure on Hamas, and to understand that there is a terrified woman with her two babies and she wants to come home. Germany has a duty to help her.
She doesn’t know what will happen to her. I want the German authorities to know that. Perhaps I am naïve, but I hope that when they see my babies’ picture and when they know that their mother has German citizenship they will apply pressure on their captors to release them. They must.
I have a lot of support around me right now. But the only support I need is of my wife and two daughters. They are my whole world. I don’t have any other children. It’s my family.
All the world is with me. All the people of Israel are with me. Sending texts, messaging. Jewish, Arab, Druze—everyone is texting me trying to help. I’m grateful, but all I can think about is that my whole world is not with me right now.
The only thing I want is for people to see photos of my baby girls and their mother. The captors need to release them as soon as they can. It’s a critical window of time. There’s not much time for little babies in captivity. Adults can hold on a few days. But not them.
Yoni Asher is a married father of two from Israel. His wife and two daughters are missing and believed to be held captive in Gaza.
All opinions expressed are the author’s own.
As told to senior editor Shane Croucher.
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