Some of Hollywood’s biggest names have taken part in a campaign calling for the release of hostages held by the terrorist group Hamas.
It is believed that Hamas and other militant groups are holding over 230 hostages, including men, women and children, captured during Hamas’ brutal attack on Oct. 7.
#ReleaseTheHostagesNow is a campaign organized by television executive Nina Tassler, Sipur Studios CEO Emilio Schenker and Creative Community for Peace, an entertainment industry nonprofit organization. The group is working “in full cooperation” with the official Hostages and Missing Families Forum, according to a news release.
“The viral campaign, which has already gained significant attention, hopes to leverage entertainment leaders’ social media audiences to galvanize international support for the hostages and their families, and ultimately to expedite their release from captivity,” the release continued.
The group is also calling for Qatar and Turkey to urge Hamas to release the hostages.
“We must use every tool at our disposal to support these innocent victims of terror. These now 239+ hostages are from 25 different countries and range from toddlers who are just a few months old to Holocaust survivors in their late 80’s,” said CCFP Executive Director Ari Ingel. “Shamefully, posters of the kidnapped around the world have been torn down in antisemitic hatred. These are posters no one can tear down.”
Amy Schumer, Debra Messing, Julianna Margulies, Michael Douglas, Billy Crystal, Mayim Bialik, Mandy Moore, Chelsea Handler, Sharon Osbourne, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Jerry O’Connell, Joshua Malina, Alyssa Milano, Chuck Norris, Phil Rosenthal, Dr. Phil, Dean Cain, Kristin Chenoweth, Josh Peck, Juliette Lewis, Howie Mandel, Marg Helgenberger, Brooklyn and Nicola Peltz Beckham, Constance Zimmer and more are among the many big names that have joined the campaign.
Celebrities and influencers taking part in the campaign are posting photos of each hostage and demanding their release. However, “due to the safety concerns for the hostages still in captivity and the fluid situation, only the names and faces of the known victims are being shared,” the campaign explained.
The Instagram account Kidnapped from Israel has also been posting photos of the hostages.
“This urgent campaign underscores the need for the international community to put pressure on the states that have influence with Hamas to free these individuals from captivity,” Bialik said. “It is vital that the world does not forget the faces of these innocent victims – they are the reason Israel continues to fight this war on terror and they are the reason the world must take a stand against this hatred and say NO MORE.”
“With every passing hour, the health and safety of each hostage becomes more tenuous. We hope this campaign brings their stories to life, offers the families solace knowing they aren’t alone, and moves us one step closer to their safe release,” Margulies said. “With each share, like, and comment of support, the world unites against terrorism and in support of peace.”
The campaign comes days after some of those same celebrities and more signed an open letter to President Joe Biden calling for the release of hostages taken by Hamas.
Hamas has already released four hostages, two Israeli women and two American women. Hamas has said it would let the others go in return for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including many implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis.
Also on Monday, Hamas released a short video purporting to show three other female captives. One of the women delivers a brief statement — likely under duress — criticizing Israel’s response to the hostage crisis. It’s unclear when the video was made.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced mounting pressure to secure the release of these hostages as Israel wages a punishing war it says is aimed at crushing Hamas and ending its 16-year rule over the territory.
The Israeli prime minister rejected calls for a ceasefire, even as airstrikes landed near hospitals where thousands of Palestinians are sheltering beside the wounded. Around 117,000 displaced people hoping to stay safe from strikes are staying in hospitals in northern Gaza, alongside thousands of patients and staff, according to U.N. figures.
The military said a female soldier, Pvt. Ori Megidish, captured during Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 incursion was rescued in Gaza — the first since the weekslong war began. In a statement, she “is doing well” and had met with her family.
Netanyahu welcomed her home, saying the “achievement” by Israel’s security forces “illustrates our commitment to free all the hostages.”
He also rejected calls for a ceasefire to facilitate the release of captives or end the war, which he has said will be long and difficult. “Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas,” he told a press conference. “That will not happen.”
The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, says nearly 672,000 Palestinians are sheltering in its schools and other facilities across Gaza, which have reached four times their capacity.
The death toll among Palestinians passed 8,300, mostly women and children, the Gaza Health Ministry said Monday. The figure is without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence. More than 1.4 million people in Gaza have fled their homes.
Over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, including many civilians killed during Hamas’ initial attack, also an unprecedented figure.
Beyond the fighting, conditions for civilians in Gaza are continually deteriorating as food, medicine and fuel run dangerously low amid a weekslong Israeli siege.
With no central power for weeks and little fuel, hospitals are struggling to keep emergency generators running to operate incubators and other life-saving equipment. UNRWA has been trying to keep water pumps and bakeries running.
On Sunday, the largest convoy of humanitarian aid yet — 33 trucks — entered the territory from Egypt, and another 26 entered on Monday. Relief workers say the amount is still far less than what is needed for the population of 2.3 million people.
The fighting has raised concerns that the violence could spread across the region. Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have engaged in daily skirmishes along Israel’s northern border.