One of the two elderly hostages released by Hamas this week opened up about her harrowing experience being captured and held captive for nearly two weeks inside the Gaza Strip.
Al-Qassam Brigades, part of the terrorist organization Hamas, released 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and 79-year-old Nurit Cooper on Monday for what was described as “health reasons.” Both women’s husbands remain captive in Gaza, according to the New York Post.
Footage of the hostage handover released by Hamas showed Lifshitz turning around after being received by Red Cross employees. She reached out to shake the hand of one of the masked gunmen who had held her captive and wished him “shalom,” meaning peace in Hebrew.
Despite this show of goodwill, Lifshitz described her experience as a nightmarish ordeal.
It began with her being kidnapped during Hamas’ multipronged attack on Israel on October 7, reported on by The Dallas Express.
She explained how a “swarm” of terrorists broke through a security gate of the Nir Oz kibbutz where she and her husband lived, according to the New York Post.
She then described being whisked away to Gaza on the back of a motorbike. As she was being abducted, Lifshitz shared, she was subjected to painful beatings on her legs by the terrorist abductors.
“When I was on the bike, my legs were on one side and the rest of my body on the other side. The young men hit me on the way,” she said, per the New York Post. “They didn’t break my limbs, but it was extremely painful for me.” She was then beaten by civilians in Gaza, reported Fox News.
Lifshitz said she was transported through a vast labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza, where they walked for several miles before arriving at a large hall where another 25 hostages were kept.
She was then separated into a group of five hostages from the kibbutz.
“When we got there, they told us they believe in the Quran and will give us the same conditions they have,” Lifshitz said, per the New York Post. She noted that a doctor tended to the hostages every few days and that a paramedic was on hand to tend to injuries and provide them with medicine.
“They made sure that we eat the food they ate: white cheese and cucumbers — that was the meal for the whole day,” the elderly woman said.
Lifshitz said their captors tried to engage the hostages in conversations about politics but were rebuffed.
“We told [them], ‘No politics,’” she said.
Lifshitz said that from what she had observed, she believed the terrorist group had carefully planned the attack.
“They were prepared for this, they were prepared for a very long time,” she claimed.
Lifshitz’s grandson Daniel Lifshitz told Reuters that his grandparents were peace activists who had cared for ailing Palestinians in nearby Gaza.
“They are human rights activists, peace activists for all their life,” he said prior to his grandmother’s release, per Reuters.
“For more than a decade, they took … sick Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, not from the West Bank, from the Gaza Strip every week from the Erez border to the hospitals in Israel to get treatment for their disease, for cancer, for anything,” he continued.
The Israel Defense Forces estimate that Hamas took more than 222 hostages during its assault, with all but four currently still held in Gaza, according to The New York Times.