'Do the deal': Families fear time is running out for British hostages held by Hamas

The families of hostages held by Hamas have called on the government to repay their trust as “time is running out” to save surviving loved ones, ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports

Words by Daniel Boal, ITV News Producer

The families of British hostages held by Hamas have begged for a deal over their release to be made, fearing that if it isn't done soon, they may never come home.

The group said there had been a “failure of international diplomacy” and urged the Israeli government to agree to any deals currently on the table.

"Now is the time to secure a deal", said Steve Brisley who is campaigning for the freedom of his brother-in-law Eli Sharabi.

The Sharabi families' nightmare began on a kibbutz where one in ten villages were killed or captured. Amid the destruction, the bodies of British-born Lianne Sharabi and her daughters Noyah, 16, and Yael, 13, were found.

Their father Eli was kidnapped - his brother Yossi, who was also kidnapped, later died in captivity.

Mr Brisley said he was "executed" by Hamas, but the group claimed that he had been killed in Israeli airstrikes.

A delegation representing four families met prime minister Rishi Sunak and Qatari foreign officials on Tuesday.

Mr Brisley said: "Now is the time to release all the hostages, there may not be anytime left for Eli.

“We put the greatest trust possible in the UK and Qatari governments because we’re talking about the lives of our family. There can be no greater trust to be given, taken or broken.

“You have to trust the UK government will do all they can, and we will hold them to account for us putting that trust in them.

“So whilst we’re eternally grateful for the honour and privilege of meeting the prime minister and the minister of state for Qatar, we have to believe that they will succeed because time is running out and the price of failure has been writ large.”

Mr Brisley said it had been helpful to make a “personal connection” with Mr Sunak, who made it clear “the hostages are always on his mind”.

He added: “I am sick of talking about them – I want to talk to them.”

Grieving families are angry with Hamas, but are increasingly frustrated with Israel's government.

On Wednesday, the IDF have released pictures of a tunnel and subterranean cell in which it claims hostages were held.

The tunnel is now abandoned, leaving families to state it represents Israel's failure to save its own citizens.

When Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, some 240 hostages were seized. During a week-long ceasefire in November, more than 100 were freed.

Israeli officials say 31 have since been killed in Gaza and three were mistakenly killed by Israeli troops.

Just one has been rescued.

Sharone Lifschitz's mother and father were captured by Hamas. Credit: ITV News

"It breaks my heart, I just think of what he thinks, what he feels. Does he know if my mum is out, I hope he knows she is okay," Sharone Lifschitz said.

Ms Lifschitz, whose elderly mother and father were among those captured by proscribed terror group Hamas, told ITV News she can't even say for sure if her father is still alive.

"We have paid a price that I would not wish on anybody."

She is calling on all sides of the conflict to "do the deal" and ensure each of the hostages' safe return.

Ms Lifschitz's mother, Yocheved Lifshitz, was one of two hostages released by Hamas in October, and afterwards described her experience as akin to going "through hell".

Asked whether the Israeli government should accept the current deal being proposed, Ms Lifschitz said: “I don’t think Israel has another option. I think that the contract between the government and its people is based on their safety.”

In the Gaza Strip, more than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed by the war, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

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