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'These are babies': Israeli father recounts when his children were kidnapped

“Babies, women, families are off-limits. You can’t just take them, hold them in captivity,” Yoni Asher told TODAY.
/ Source: TODAY

Yoni Asher is an Israeli man whose wife, two young daughters and mother-in-law have been taken hostage by Hamas in the wake of the militant group's attack on the country from the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

Asher said he saw a video on social media capturing what appeared to be his family being placed into the back of a vehicle.

“Since Saturday, I don’t have any new information since I saw the video, which I recognized my wife and two daughters, two baby girls,” he told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Oct. 9.

Asher said his daughters are “less than 5 and 3 years old.” He also said he previously had a phone call with his wife.

“She told me that there are terrorists inside the house, but when I saw the video later after I track(ed) her phone, there was no doubt in my mind that she was taken, they were taken, with my daughters, into Gaza by Hamas,” he said.

Asher said he tracked his wife’s phone into Gaza and that she had been visiting her mother in a village next to Gaza while he stayed at home.

What would his message be right now to the people holding his family captive?

“They’re just little babies. They’re not even girls. It’s babies,” he said about his daughters.

“I’m approaching to everyone who is willing to hear, it doesn’t matter if it’s the person who are holding them, or the national community, or anyone else. The message is, these are babies. Babies, women, families are off-limits. You can’t just take them, hold them in captivity.

“I don’t know what conditions are they held in. I don’t know if they ate enough, if they’re cold or hot. If they’re hurt, if they’re getting treatment right. It’s a situation — you just can’t do these kind of things. And that’s what I want to tell them, that we’ll not hurt them and we’ll show some decency, show some respect.”

Asher said he is focused on getting his family back.

“The last 48 hours, I didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, all the time talking to media trying to get new information,” he said.

“First day, I never left my phone for one second, always tried to get new information, somehow. I’m trying to raise the awareness using the media and show the photos of my wife, of my little baby girls and that people can see that they should be home. They shouldn’t be kept as prisoners by Hamas.”

The Israeli Embassy to the U.S. said early Sunday that dozens had been kidnapped. 

At least 700 people have been killed in Israel, including 73 soldiers, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari. Roughly 560 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 2,000 people have been injured in Israel and approximately 2,900 have been injured in Gaza.