CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — There are more than 220 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, including American citizens.
One of those captives is a Chapel Hill native.
In bright red letters, the word ‘Kidnapped” blares above 64-year-old Keith Siegel’s smiling face, on a poster.
“[He’s] one of the most decent, kindhearted people that I ever met,” said Alon Tal.
Tal grew up in Raleigh. Siegel grew up in Chapel Hill.
The two have been friends since childhood and both made the decision to move to Israel, decades ago.
“The community of North Carolina expatriates in Israel is not a large one,” said Tal.
Tal’s parents kept in touch with the Siegels.
A little more than one week before the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks, they had lunch with Siegel. A selfie around a table full of food shows a happier, simpler time.
Thousands of terrorists crossed into Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, kidnapping more than 220, and injuring thousands of others.
The victims include men, women, children, and the elderly.
“Keith lived, for the last many years, in Kfar Aza, which is a kibbutz on the Gaza border. That particular kibbutz had been hit hard by this unimaginably brutal terrorist attack,” explained Tal.
Siegel, and his wife, Aviva, are now captive in Gaza.
“It’s unthinkable to me that somebody who was such a peaceful person would find himself a hostage in such a violent situation,” added Tal.
There have been no news or updates on how the Siegels are doing.
“We are deeply concerned about the way they’re being treated,” said Tal. “We saw an unbelievably brutal and inhumane terrorist organization burst in, disemboweling children, coming with orders to chop off little children’s heads.”
The prayers to release the couple, and the hundreds of other hostages grow strong. They echo across the world and the Triangle.
“I can only hope that we manage to get Keith out as soon as possible and that he can continue to live his very good life,” said Tal.
Four hostages have recently been released by Hamas, including two American citizens.
Tal added that each of those “teases,” give everyone a glimmer of hope.