Yoni Asher looks at his phone from his home in Ganot Hadar, Israel, on October 8, 2023.
An Israeli dad says he saw a video of his wife and children held hostage by Hamas militants.
He is now begging for the fighters to not harm his family.
He said his wife had called him and said there were “terrorists inside the house.”
An Israeli father is begging Hamas militants not to harm his family after he recognized his wife, two young daughters, and mother-in-law in a viral video being held hostage in the back of a pickup truck and flanked by armed fighters.
The ordeal started when Yoni Asher, 37, received a harrowing phone call from his 34-year-old wife, Doron Asher Katz, early Saturday morning as the Palestinian militant group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip launched large-scale, surprise attacks on Israel.
“She told me that there are terrorists inside the house,” Asher said during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.
Asher said his wife and children had been visiting his mother-in-law in the southern Israeli village of Nir Oz near the Gaza border when he got the call.
The father told The New York Times that Asher Katz’s mother’s partner had left the safe room his family was hiding out in to try to reason with the invaders.
“She said they left — and they took him with them,” said Asher.
And then the phone line went dead.
Asher said that he later tracked his wife’s phone using her Google account and found it to be in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.
He said his fears that his family had been kidnapped were confirmed when he saw a video on social media that he said showed his wife, kids, and mother-in-law piled into the back of a truck.
At one point in the footage, an armed man can be seen putting a cloth over a woman’s head.
“When I saw the video later, after I track her phone, there was no doubt in my mind that she was taken, they were taken with my daughters into Gaza by Hamas,” Asher said on the “Today” show.
Asher told Reuters he was able to identify “my wife, my two daughters, and my mother-in-law on some kind of a cart, and terrorists of Hamas all around them.”
The father said his daughters are less than 5 and 3 years old, and he pleaded for the militants not to hurt his family.
“These are babies,” Asher said on the “Today” show. “Babies, women, families, are off limits. You can’t just take them, hold them in captivity.”
Asher, who said that he’s been so distraught he has not slept and eaten, said in the interview that he has no idea what conditions his family is being held in and whether they’re being fed.
He begged for their kidnappers to show his family “some dignity and decency.”
“Show some respect,” he said.
Israel declared war on Hamas in the aftermath of the attacks. The death toll in Israel has climbed to more than 700, the Israel Defense Forces said on Sunday.
More than 100 people are believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas following the group’s attacks on Israel.