An 85-year-old Israeli hostage Yocheved Lifshitz who was released by Hamas, described her ordeal of two weeks of captivity on Tuesday, October 24, at a press conference outside Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital.
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On Monday night, October 23, Hamas released 79-year-old Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz citing “compelling humanitarian” reasons, after mediation by Qatar and Egypt. Upon their release, they accused the Israeli leadership of having ‘failed’ and using people like them as ‘scapegotes’.
From left— Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper (Photp: AP)
Lifshitz was captured, alongside her husband Oded, on Saturday, October 7. He has not been released.
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Seated in a wheelchair, Lifshitz recounted her bike ride from Kibbutz Nir Oz to Gaza Strip, where she was taken into a tunnel.
“When I was on the bike, my head was on one side and the rest of my body on the other side,” she said. “The young men hit me on the way. They didn’t break my ribs but it was painful and I had difficulty breathing.”
“I went through a hell that we didn’t think or know we would get to this situation.”
In Gaza, she said, she was taken through a spiderweb-like tunnel network and had to walk through wet floors for kilometers.
After some two-three hours, she reached a large hall in which 25 hostages were gathered. “When we got there, first of all they told us that they believed in the Quran and that they would not harm us,” she recounted.
“They treated her gently,” she said, when questioned about why she shook hands with one of her captors the moment she was released.
“Each person had a guard watching him or her. They took care of all the needs. They talked about all kinds of things, they were very friendly.”
“We ate bread, white cheese and cucumbers, just like them.”
She highlighted Israel’s lack of preparedness for the devastating attack on October 7.
“The IDF did not take it seriously. We were left to fend for ourselves. The lack of knowledge in the IDF and the Shin Bet severely affected us.”
Lifshitz noted that the Hamas appeared prepared for the situation, concealing it for a long time, and promptly provided necessary items like shampoo and conditioner.
A doctor visited her and other hostages to ensure they received the same medications they were taking in Israel, she added.
An American woman and her teenage daughter, who were also held captive, have been released on Friday, October 20.
Hamas and other militants in Gaza have reportedly taken approximately 220 people, including foreigners and dual citizens.
On October 7, Hamas carried out raids and fired thousands of rockets towards Israel.
In response, Israel continuous launched a spree of bombings in the besieged Gaza Strip, leading to the death of over 5,000 persons. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, over 2,000 among those killed are children.