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Liel Slifer, left, Dalia Cusnir, center, and pastor Jeremiah Johnston speak about the situation in Israel at Prestonwood Baptist Church. Slifer and Cusnir are the relatives of people still being held hostage by Hamas. (Prestonwood Baptist Church)

Families of Hamas hostages share stories in Dallas church

Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, last weekend invited several families of hostages being held by Hamas to share their stories.

“The news cycle moves really fast and, to some, it seems like October 7 happened forever ago, but for us, it’s happening every single day,” said Liel Slifer, whose cousin is one of more than 130 captives still being held. “It is in the moment. We still have family that are being held hostage. This is not politics; this is not left vs. right, Jews vs. Christians. This is good vs. evil. It is a battle between good and evil. And we need you all, every single day, to be vocal and supportive. This isn’t just affecting us; this is affecting the world.”

READ: 1 in 4 hostages are dead

The event took place as part of a delegation of hostage family members who visited Dallas, Austin and San Antonio to advocate for the release of their loved ones. The delegation met with state legislators, businesses and religious communities.

Slifer’s cousin, Carmel Gat, an occupational therapist, is 39 years old and six months older than Slifer. In November, Hamas released multiple hostages during a temporary ceasefire agreement. Although Gat wasn’t among the released hostages, several children who were released told her family that Hamas had held them alongside the middle-aged woman. According to the children, Gat performed yoga with them while in captivity to help ease their minds, and she told the children to inform her family that she is safe and healthy.

“But that is the last we heard from her,” Slifer said. “And we don’t know if she is still there, if she is alive, if she is healthy, if she is safe. But we pray that God is watching over her and everyone’s family.”

She reminded the congregation about the spiritual nature of the conflict.

“We need you all every day,” she said. “Be vocal, be supportive. If you hear somebody talking about Israel, go into that conversation. If you see somebody post something online, interject in that. We need your support. We need your help, because this isn’t just affecting us. This is affecting the world.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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