Families of Bedouin hostages wait for news as Gaza fighting resumes

A flare lights up the night sky in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from southern Israel

TIRABIN AL SANA, Israel (Reuters) - The family members of four Bedouin Arabs taken hostage on Oct. 7 during the assault on southern Israel by Hamas gunmen have welcomed the return of two of the captives but wait for news of the others as fighting resumes in the Gaza Strip.

Yosef Hamis Ziadna, his sons Hamza and Bilal and his daughter, Aisha, were working on the Holit farm on Israel's border with Gaza when they were seized by the gunmen along with more than 200 other Israelis and foreigners.

Aisha and Bilal were handed over during the seven-day truce between Israel and Hamas that ended on Friday morning but Yosef and Hamza are still being held, along with two other Bedouins, Farhan al-Qadi and Samer al-Talalqa.

"There were tough times, we always had hope," said their cousin Kamel al-Ziadna. "We want the release of Yousef and Hamza and all those held hostages, and Samer and Farhan, may God bring them back to their families".

Bedouin Arabs make up about 4% of Israel's population, living mainly in the southern Negev desert and in northern Israel.

Kamel said the families were urging Hamas to release their hostages. "They are Arab, Muslim youth," he said.

While they wait, like the families of other hostages released during the week-long pause, their emotions are mixed.

When the news came through that Aisha and Belal were to be released, there was a large gathering of family and friends that celebrated through the night.

"It was nice moments, but the happiness was missing something, so until the whole family is reunited with Hamza and Yousef, then we will hold a huge party, and we will gather with friends and family and all those who shared these difficult times with us," he said.

(Reporting by Sishi Siyabonga, Nuha Sharaf; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Kevin Liffey)