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Schwarzenegger lends support to families of Israeli hostages

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Published Dec 01, 2023 09:40PM ET Updated Dec 01, 2023 09:45PM ET


Schwarzenegger lends support to families of Israeli hostages © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alpine Skiing – FIS Alpine Ski World Cup – Men’s Downhill – Kitzbuehel, Austria – January 21, 2023 Arnold Schwarzenegger during the Men’s Downhill REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo


By Omar Younis

SANTA MONICA, California (Reuters) – Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday met relatives of three people seized by Hamas in Israel and now held in Gaza, lending his celebrity to support those whose loved ones are still unaccounted for following the Oct. 7 attack.

Schwarzenegger gave bronze eagle sculptures to his visitors at a video production company in Santa Monica, just west of Los Angeles. In turn they presented Schwarzenegger with “Bring Them Home” dog tags.

Declaring himself “a big friend of the Jewish people and Israel,” Schwarzenegger said he wanted to amplify the message not to abandon those who remain captive.

Israel says Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, took 240 hostages in the Oct. 7 attack that also killed 1,200 people and set off a Middle East war.

During a seven-day pause in fighting that ended on Friday, officials said 110 hostages – 86 Israelis and 24 foreigners – were released in exchange for Palestinian detainees, while the bodies of two hostages were recovered by Israeli troops.

“This is where I come in because when you’re a celebrity, then you have a certain kind of a power to communicate to the mass because you have a lot of cameras show up,” said Schwarzenegger, the former champion bodybuilder and Hollywood screen star whose show business career was interrupted by his time as governor from 2003 to 2011.

Among those meeting the “Terminator” star was Bar Rudaeff, 27, whose father Lior Rudaeff, 61, was taken from the Kibbutz Nir Yitzchak. He said Schwarzenegger was one of his father’s favorite actors.

“I remember watching a ‘Terminator’ movie with him in the living room. And I know that when he comes back, it will put a smile on his face,” Rudaeff said.

Schwarzenegger also met with Jacob Bohbot, 36, whose brother Elkana Bohbot, 34, was taken from the Nova music festival in Israel near the border with Gaza, and with Ella Shani, 14, whose cousin Amit Shani, 16, was kidnapped in the attack on Kibbutz Be’eri, taken to the Gaza Strip, and released on Wednesday. Ella’s father, Itzik Kozin, was killed in the kibbutz attack.

The meeting was arranged by the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem.

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