Grandmother avoided abduction on October 7 after she mentioned Messi

Ester Cunio, 90, is now hoping the world-famous footballing hero will help campaign for the release of her grandsons


Ester Cunio, who narrowly avoided being abducted on October 7 after she brought up footballer Lionel Messi to the terrorists who broke into her home (Photo: Fuente Latina)

A 90-year-old resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz has said how she narrowly escaped being taken hostage after she started a conversation with a Hamas terrorist over the football star Messi.

Ester Cunio, whose two grandsons, David and Ariel Cunio, remain captive in Gaza, is now calling on the Argentine to help secure their release. Six other family members, who were kidnapped, including three children and their mothers, were released in November.

Sharing her story in a documentary, Voices of October 7: Latino Stories of Survival, Cunio recounted how two terrorists broke into her house and told her that she would be going with them to Gaza and that, after the attack, no one would be left on the kibbutz, just fire.

Cunio, who moved from Argentina to Israel as an adult, said that it was difficult to communicate with the terrorists due to her limited Hebrew and English.

When one of the terrorists became aggressive, she said: “Don’t talk to me. I don’t know your language and my Hebrew is bad. I speak Argentinian Spanish.”

The terrorist responded by asking: “What is Argentinian?” to which she replied: “Do you like soccer?” When the terrorist said that he did, Cunio told him: “I’m from where Messi is from.”

According to Cunio, the terrorist then said: “Messi? I like Messi!”, gave her an AKA47 gun to hold, told her to make a peace sign and took a selfie with the grandmother.

The photo has since become a symbol of Hamas’ attack on October 7.

The exchange may have saved Cunio’s life, but she is now calling on the international sporting hero to campaign on behalf of the hostage families to help release their loved ones.

Voices of October 7: Latino Stories of Survival, produced by Fuente Latina, tells the stories of the Latin American immigrants caught up in the October 7 attacks, many of whom lived on Kibbutz Nir Oz.


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