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Source: Eitan Dan

Yesterday afternoon over 250 people gathered at a peaceful rally in the Civic Square in Wellington to call for the immediate and unconditional release of 230 hostages taken by Hamas in Israel on October 7th. Similar events took place simultaneously in Auckland and Hastings.

In a stark display of the atrocity committed, 230 empty white chairs were set up in the square to represent the victims – 200 chairs for the adults taken, and 30 child size chairs to represent the children, toddlers and babies taken. Every chair had a photo and details of each victim, with a red balloon attached.

Speaking at the event Eitan Dan, who helped organise the event with local businessman Jeremy Smith, and other volunteers said: “As a fellow human being, I implore all of us to come together in an unprecedented display of solidarity and compassion. We must raise our voices, not in anger or hatred, but in a resounding call for the immediate release of these innocent souls. We must let the world know that we stand as one, regardless of our backgrounds, beliefs, or nationalities, against such acts of cruelty.

“Our message to the world is simple,” said Eitan, “free the 230 kidnapped victims and bring them home.”

Jeremy Smith said: “We call for the release of the hostages, and I hope that New Zealanders will join us. No country should have to deal with terrorism and kidnapping.”

The event was arranged by concerned Israelis and New Zealanders who are calling for the hostages to be released and returned to their homes.

Attending were representatives from across the Wellington region, from various communities, public offices, religions, and walks of life. The event included speeches, songs and prayer. 

Eitan Dan is an Israeli who has made New Zealand his home. Eitan is managing director of the New Zealand division of global company CropX, which has offices in Israel, the Netherlands, and the US.