‘We have failed’: A conversation with the parents of an Israeli hostage

Photo of Israeli hostage and rally in support of hostages release
Omer Neutra (inset) is one of more than 100 Israelis who have been held hostage by Hamas since the Oct. 7, 2023 terrorist attacks in Israel, and New Yorkers have pleaded for his release.
File photo/Dean Moses, inset via Hostages and Missing Families Forum

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on April 16 in The Forward.

Omer Neutra grew up in Long Island, New York, served as captain of his Jewish day school basketball team and worked as a lifeguard. He joined the Israel Defense Forces four years ago, and was serving as a tank commander when taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.

I spoke to his mother and father, Orna and Ronen Neutra, before they left for Israel on Tuesday. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Omer turned 22 a week after he was taken hostage. What did you do on his birthday?