By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Photo courtesy of Israel Embassy in Manila

MANILA – The Israeli Embassy in Manila on Friday called on Filipino bicycle riders to join a global campaign for the immediate release of the 132 still being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas.

The campaign called #RidetoBringThemHomeNow encourages Filipinos to go for a ride, tie a yellow ribbon to their bikes and post their photos with the hashtag on Jan. 14.

“This initiative is calling people to showcase their solidarity about a human topic, about them understanding what it’s like when a person, no matter where it comes from, is in captivity, is kidnapped by terrorists,” Israel Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Ester Buzgan said in a virtual press briefing.

“Anyone can take their bicycle to put the ribbon, take the picture, and to hashtag. Once this hashtag is out, it reaches so many people, it raises the awareness and hopefully create(s) the impact wherever it’s needed to bring those people home,” she added.

Overseas Filipino worker Jimmy Pacheco, who was previously held captive in Gaza by Hamas for 49 days, invited other Filipinos to join the campaign.

“Tayo po ay makiisa at patuloy na magdasal upang makabalik na rin sila sa kanilang mga tahanan (Let us join this call and continue praying that they too will be able to return to their homes soon),” he said.

Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss said at least 23 of the people have already died while in captivity since Hamas mounted a cross-border attack on Israel and kidnapped more than a hundred people on Oct. 7, 2023.

“To us or any Israeli and I think any human being, we would like to see the end of this war as soon as possible,” he said.

“But to see the end of this war, we have to see the hostages returning back home and Israelis safe and not being threatened again by such an attack by the terror organization Hamas,” he added. (PNA)