Gaza civilians sold me to Hamas, says former hostage

Nili Margalit was abducted from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7


Nili Margalit being interviewed on Channel 12 (Image: YouTube)

Former hostage Nili Margalit has said that it was Palestinian Arab civilians, not Hamas, who abducted her from her home in Nir Oz on October 7.

“They negotiated with Hamas to sell me. When they were paid, I was taken straight into a tunnel,” the 42-year-old told France’s Le Point magazine.

Margalit, currently on a tour of Europe to raise awareness about the 133 Israelis still in captivity, described the day of the attack.

At 6.30am she jumped up when she heard the alarms signalling incoming rockets and ran to her safe room. WhatsApp messages flooded in, some warning of terrorists in her kibbutz.

At 9am, the terrorists – actually civilians, she said – reached her home. They set fire inside her house and pulled her out of her safe room.

“They turned the house upside down and started a fire,” she told the magazine. 

They put her on a golf cart, covered her in a white sheet and drove her to the Gaza Strip border. There she was surrounded by shouting Palestinian Arab civilians holding Kalashnikov rifles.

She was then transferred to a car at the border and taken to Khan Yunis. At that point, she was “sold” to Hamas.

Margalit says she noticed that those who had kidnapped her were jubilant as she was driven to Gaza and there were cheers in Khan Younis from crowds there.

“I saw elderly people, children taken hostage,” Margalit said.

Margalit was taken to a “reception room” in a tunnel, which held about 30 people, some of whom she recognised from Nir Oz. The Israeli men had swollen faces and injured legs from being dragged on motorcycles.

They were divided up into smaller groups, including one for people over 70 and the weak and sick. Margalit mentioned that she was an emergency room nurse. “Helping was my way of surviving,” she said.

She was later taken into a dormitory for ten hostages. There, she says time felt like it stood still, and they only ate bread and rice.

She did yoga to keep her muscles moving, and spoke with the other hostages.

“There were shouting matches, crying, laughing, it's normal when you put ten people in the same room, we're human! But we always supported each other,” she told the French weekly.

“At first, I told myself it would only last two days. Then I understood that Israel would never pay for so many hostages. This depressed some of us. We had to hold on psychologically.”

In the tunnels, the hostages received no information about the outside world, she says. They had no idea of the scale of the October 7 massacre, nor Israel's military response against Hamas which to this day has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Margalit was released on November 30 along with seven others as part of a hostage-prisoner deal between Israel and Hamas.

One of the other hostages released that day was Mia Schem, who was captured while attending the Nova music festival. Schem told Israeli television in December that what she encountered in Gaza was “pure hatred.”

“There are no innocent citizens there. They are families controlled by Hamas. There are children who from the moment they are born are taught that Israel is Palestine and just to hate Jews,” she said.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive