‘I went through hell’: Freed hostage describes 17 days of Hamas captivity

October 24, 2023 by Pesach Benson
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“I went through hell that we never thought it would get to this,” said Yocheved Lifshitz in her first meeting with reporters on Monday after being freed by Hamas the previous night.

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, at an Oct. 24 press conference in Tel Aviv where she described being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. Lifshitz and a second hostage, Nurit Cooper, were released the previous night. Credit Gideon Markowicz/TPS

The 85-year-old Lifshitz, along with 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, were freed on Sunday night. The two women — both residents of Kibbutz Nir Oz, were immediately taken to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital.

They were among the more than 200 hostages taken on Oct. 7 from communities near the Gaza border. Lifshitz’s 83-year-old husband, Oded and Cooper’s 84-year-old husband, Amiram are believed still being held.

“They went rampant in our kibbutz. I was taken hostage. They laid me on a motorcycle and sped through a thicket,” Lifshitz recalled. She said she had trouble breathing after being beaten with sticks during the ride to Gaza.

“They blew up the electronic fence, that special fence that cost two and a half billion dollars to build but didn’t help with anything,” Lifshitz continued. “Masses mobbed our homes. They beat people, took some hostage. They didn’t distinguish between young and elderly, it was very painful. They brought us to the entrance to the tunnels. We arrived in the tunnel and walked for kilometers on wet dirt. There is a giant system of tunnels, like spiderwebs.”

Lifshitz said they eventually reached what she called a “hall” where they separated five of the hostages from her kibbutz.

Describing her 17 days, Lifshitz said, “We lay there on mattresses. They took care of the sanitary side and we had a doctor who came every two or three days to see what was going on. The medic took the responsibility and made sure to bring medicine and if there was no medicine then bring equivalent medicine.”

Describing her captors, Lifshitz said, “We told them no politics. They talked about all kinds of things. They were very friendly. We ate what they ate. Pita with white cheese, melted cheese and cucumber.”


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