By James Williams

JERUSALEM, — In Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, November 7th exactly one month to the day after the brutal October 7th Hamas attack on Israel families of those taken hostage held a press conference to draw attention to the lawmakers on Capitol Hill for continued United States support for Israel on all fronts. They made it clear to members of Congress about the need for aid to Israel and the continued help in getting their loved ones safely returned home as soon as possible.  

A very emotional Doris Liber, whose son 26-year-old Guy Iluz, spoke to her on the phone the morning of October 7th telling her about hearing gunshots and describing bodies everywhere. She told members of Congress “It’s been 30 days. Every day is like an eternity to me,” Lieber said, breaking down momentarily. “I’m part of your people, you’re part of Israel and America has been like the best ally. I’m so proud of being an American, being an Israeli as well. But I do need you now.”

The United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.  Nov 8, 2023. The front of the United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.   Families Of Israeli Hostages Taken by Hamas Go to Washington to Get Help for Their Loved Ones: PIXBAY/PIXBAY.

There was a stark warning from Yonatan Lulu-Shamariz whose 26-year-old brother Alon was taken hostage. “This is a wake-up call, not only for Israel, not only for the Jewish community. This is a wake-up call for all of you — all of you here, all of America, all of Europe,” he said. “You are next. You are next.”

The families were briefed on both the diplomatic as well as legislative fronts as to where help returning the hostages and Israeli aid stood at present. 

On the diplomatic front the Biden administration and in particular Secretary of State Anothony Blinken has made the safe return of all hostages their top priority. Over this past weekend, November 3rd through 5th Blinken made his third trip to the region since the hostages were taken and the war began.

Blinken met with Israeli leaders as well a number of Arab officials to drive home the importance of getting the safe return of the hostages. He also discussed the Morning After plan, a look at Gaza and the West Bank might look after the defeat of Hamas with a peacefull two state solution. 

There can be no doubt that the United States is very willing to aid Israel, but it remains to be how much and how soon that aid will get where it is needed. Meanwhile, there is quite a bit of gamesmanship on Capitol Hill with both chambers looking at extensive aid plans.

The United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.  Nov 8, 2023. The front of the United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.   Families Of Israeli Hostages Taken by Hamas Go to Washington to Get Help for Their Loved Ones: PIXBAY/PIXBAY.

The Republican-controlled House wants a $14.3 billion emergency aid for Israel, the money would come from cutting the Internal Revenue budget by 40 percent to pay for the aid which is a nonstarter for the Upper Chamber. Meanwhile, the Senate plan has bipartisan support including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Joe Biden. 

The Senate bill calls for $106 billion in military aid for Israel and Ukraine, with a portion of the money earmarked for security at the United States Southern border. The House bill has no money for Ukraine or the Southern border and will not even make it to the Senate floor.

There will be some sort of compromise bill that will send aid to Israel but how much and how soon remains to be seen. As for the hostage issue, Secretary Blinken and his staff remain in contact with their Israeli counterparts daily  as the explore all options to secure the safe release of the hostages.  

Edited by Othieno B and achie bella