Michael Levy is on a mission that has brought him to Toronto from Israel to share his brother’s story in hopes of raising awareness about the hostages still being held and to call for them to be released immediately.
“My little brother had to watch his wife being murdered in front of his eyes before he was taken into Gaza. Since then, our lives are not the same,” he said.
Or Levy and his wife Eynav arrived at the Supernova Festival just before the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel began. The couple sought refuge in a roadside bomb shelter.
“Or called my mother from inside the bomb shelter. He was completely terrified. Actually, his last sentence was, ‘Mom, you don’t want to know what’s going on here.’ That was the last thing we heard from him,” he recalled.
Desperate for information about his brother and sister-in-law, Levy called hospitals across Israel and scoured social media posts and videos.
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“I spoke to survivors, tried to get any kind of information. At one point, we got to their last video inside this shelter. You can see them hiding. Still relatively happy. They thought they were in a safe place for a second,” he said.
Levy would eventually learn his sister-in-law, Eynav Elkayam Levy, 32, was killed and his brother was taken captive.
“After eight days, the army came to my parents’ house and told us that Or was abducted to Gaza…. They just told us that he’s alive,” he said.
Levy has been travelling the world telling his younger brother’s story ever since.
He brings with him a teddy bear that belongs to his young nephew, two-year-old Almog, to give him strength.
“I carry it around with me to remind myself why I do what I do,” he said.
Almog asks about his parents all the time, Levy said, and the family had to explain to him that his mother would not be coming home.
“He can understand that his mother and his father are not there. He calls for them all the time. He wants to go home. We cannot mention the words ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ next to him because he will burst into tears,” he added.
Levy is relieved that hostages have been released but he is anxious for his brother to come home.
“I was really happy to see them being released. Obviously, you cannot be completely happy because Or and the rest of the hostages, children, the elderly people, are still there,” he said.
Levy hopes Canadians hear Or’s story and consider reaching out to local politicians to put pressure on them to help get the remaining hostages released.
“They can write a letter. They can call the politicians. They can talk about Or’s story and the rest of the hostages. We have to remember they are only human beings. It’s not about politics. It’s about people with hopes and dreams and a family and little boy who is waiting for his father.”
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