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Kathy Ireland among those honoring hostages on Thanksgiving with empty seats at dinner table

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Families of Americans held hostage by Hamas amid the conflict in Gaza are urging others to reserve an empty seat at their Thanksgiving gatherings in honor of those yet to return home.

The symbolic gesture is part of the “Seats of Hope” campaign, which says that the empty seat represents those unable to be with their families and exemplifies hope for their safe return.

A statement released by the families expressed anguish over the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel. It noted that it has been 45 days since children, parents, siblings and other relatives were captured by Hamas terrorists.

“We don’t know where they are or how they are doing; we only want them home. As we gather to commemorate Thanksgiving, let us hold those with us close and keep those who can’t join us this year in our hearts,” the families wrote.

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Bethany Mandel Thanksgiving post

Bethany Mandel urged others to consider setting a place for Avigail on Thanksgiving.  (Twitter/Screenshot)

The “Seats of Hope: Host A Hostage at Your Thanksgiving Table” campaign was organized by the Hostages and Missing Families forum. Participants are told to print a sign with a hostage’s name alongside their personal story to be placed alongside family.

After eating, participants were asked to upload a photo of the empty seat to social media and the campaign’s website.

“By uploading, a red dot will be added to the interactive map on the website, demonstrating the collective call for the hostages’ release,” the statement added.

Children’s author Bethany Mandel was one of the people online who posted about the campaign and asked followers to consider setting a place for Avigail, a three-year-old girl who is the youngest American held in Gaza. Her parents were murdered on October 7.

Model Kathy Ireland, the CEO and chief designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, also posted about the campaign to X.

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Kathy Ireland post

Kathy Ireland said her family was leaving an empty seat at their table to acknowledge those held hostage in Gaza.  (Twitter/Screenshot)

“This #Thanksgiving, to honor the hostages for whom we pray are living, & those blessed souls whose lives have been given, we are among the people leaving empty seats at our table to acknowledge that we are at war. There is no place in this world where Jews are not being persecuted. Donations & prayers will not cease. Pls, pray & if you’re able, pls give. Among non-profits we’re honoring: American European Bethel Mission & @FriendsOfSheba via  she tweeted.

President Biden and other administration officials said Tuesday that they welcomed the temporary cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas that includes the planned release of hostages on Friday.

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Qatari negotiators helped broker the deal, which included Israel’s military agreeing to temporarily stop its airstrikes and ground invasion of Gaza for humanitarian purposes. Additionally, Hamas has agreed to release dozens of hostages in tandem and Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners on a 3-to-1 ratio. Hamas leaders will release one hostage for every three Palestinians that Israel releases from its prisons.

Fox News’ Landon Mion contributed to this report. 


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