A family’s agony waiting for word on Canadian feared to be a Hamas-held hostage


There is little known about Judih Weinstein Haggai’s fate since Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel nearly eight weeks ago and launched a wave of surprise attacks.

The Oct. 7 events saw roughly 240 people taken hostage by Hamas, according to Israeli authorities. Weinstein Haggai, a Canadian, is feared to be among those individuals

But her family cannot say precisely what has happened to her.

“We don’t know whether Judih is dead or alive,” her niece, Ali Weinstein, told CBC News Network on Wednesday.

Weinstein Haggai’s relatives are among many families watching as an increasing number of Hamas-held hostages have been freed from captivity amid a temporary truce, but who are still awaiting news about their loved ones.

“It’s been really, really wonderful to see some of these people coming out and being reunified with their families,” Ali Weinstein said.

But so far, those who have emerged from captivity have not had information about her aunt.

The brief pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas, which began last Friday, has so far seen dozens of Hamas-held hostages released in exchange for scores of Palestinians being freed from Israeli prisons.

Ahead of expected further exchanges on Wednesday, Reuters reported that 60 Israeli hostages had been freed, under the deal that secured the war’s first truce. Twenty-one foreigners, mainly Thai farmworkers, were also freed under separate parallel deals. In return, Israel has released 180 Palestinian security detainees — all women and teenagers.

Ali Weinstein, niece of Canadian hostage Judith Weinstein Haggai, is seen at the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto.
Ali Weinstein, niece of Canadian Judih Weinstein Haggai, said her family does not know whether her aunt — who is feared to be among those in Israel who were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 — is dead or alive. (Sam Nar/CBC)

No information from freed hostages

Weinstein said many of the hostages freed so far are from the same kibbutz where her aunt lives — though, unfortunately, “they haven’t seen her.” 

Her cousins haven’t seen any sign of Weinstein Haggai in hostage-related news footage, either.

The last known details of Weinstein Haggai’s life were from when she called for help on the day of the attacks and reported that she and her husband were hurt.

“We do know, from Judih’s phonecalls … that both of them were shot,” her niece said.

Weinstein said her family believes her uncle is likely dead.

The Oct. 7 attacks — which saw 1,200 people killed in Israel, authorities there have said — ignited a war that has involved Israeli forces undertaking airstrikes across Gaza and launching a subsequent ground invasion.

Reuters reports that Palestinian health officials say more than 15,000 people have died during the war so far.



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