Operation Empty Stroller at Champ-de-Mars in Paris for Children Held Captive by Hamas

Thirty empty strollers were installed on the lawn of the Champ-de-Mars as part of an initiative by the Crif. The operation is aimed at demanding the release of hostages by Hamas, including children.

“One humanitarian question above all.” On one of the lawns of the Champ-de-Mars in Paris, thirty empty strollers were installed a few meters from the Eiffel Tower on Thursday, October 26.

The “empty stroller” operation launched by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (Crif) aims to raise awareness about the issue of Israeli children kidnapped by Hamas on October 7.

“We wanted humanity to prevail beyond numbers. We wanted these names, these faces of children held by Hamas to reach the hearts and consciences of the French people,” says Yonathan Arfi, president of the CRIF, in an interview with BFMTV. A 9-month-old baby among the captives

In the lined-up strollers, the faces of Aloni, 5 years old, Ela, 8 years old, and Erez, 12 years old. Some are newborns, like Kfir, 9 months old.

“We’re talking about hostages, it’s a tragedy, but when it comes to children being hostages, it’s an even bigger tragedy. Their release must be a priority,” argues the president of Crif. He adds: “Some children are actually 1, 2, or 3 years old. They are held without their parents, you can imagine the anguish they live in.”

Conducted jointly in Marseille and Nice, the “empty stroller” operation also aims to alert the relevant authorities. “We want the International Red Cross to quickly obtain information about their detention conditions and their health status, and of course, obtain their release,” says Yonathan Arfi.

He later explains that the issue of captive children “is not political” and is not related “to the conflict as such.” For the president of Crif, this situation is primarily “a humanitarian question.”

He therefore asks the State to act and use its diplomatic relations.

“France can play a role because it has important diplomatic channels. It has privileged relations with Qatar, Egypt, and good relations with Turkey that can influence Hamas,” explains the president of Crif, Yonathan Arfi.

He adds: “What matters is that influential actors try to have leverage on Hamas to obtain the release of the hostages.”

As a reminder, nine French nationals are still missing. “We will not rest until the mission is fulfilled and our hostages are returned,” said Emmanuel Macron in a message read during the evening calling for the release of Hamas hostages, organized at the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Children’s portraits projected onto buildings

A few hours before this action, the faces of children held by Hamas were projected as part of the #BringThemHome campaign.

Faces were projected on the esplanade of the Trocadéro, specifically on a wall of the City of Architecture and Heritage, as well as in the 3rd and 11th districts of Paris.

Orchestrated by anonymous individuals, the campaign aimed to “illuminate the sky and buildings around the world with the faces of all hostages kidnapped in Israel,” according to the organizers. This campaign is also regularly relayed on social media by Israel since the Hamas attack on October 7.

In Israel, more than 1,400 people have died since October 7. According to authorities, most of them are civilians killed in the Hamas terrorist attack.

In Gaza, 6,546 people have been killed since the same date, including at least 2,704 children, according to the local Ministry of Health. The ministry also reports 17,439 injuries.

Martin Regley Journalist

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