'I went through hell' says 85-year-old released hostage

Yocheved Lifshitz was kidnapped by motorbike, beaten, and held in tunnels under Gaza


TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 24: Yocheved Lifshitz speaks to the media outside Ichilov Hospital after she was released by Hamas last night, on October 24, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Last night, two hostages taken by Hamas on October 7th, Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, were released to the Red Cross within Gaza and returned to Israel. This followed the release of two other hostages, both US nationals, who were released on Saturday. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

A released Hamas hostage has said that she 'went through hell' at the hands of her captors, describing how she was taken into a 'spider's web' of tunnels underneath the Gaza Strip.

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, was released by Hamas last night alongside her neighbour from Kibbutz Nir Oz, Nurit Cooper, 79. Lifshitz and Cooper were taken by Hamas terrorists from the kibbutz on October 7, spending the last 16 days in Gaza.

At a press conference in Israel this morning, Lifshitz described her ordeal at the hands of Hamas, explaining how she was taken on the back of a motorbike, hit with sticks and driven across the border fence into the Strip.

According to Yocheved, she was forced to walk across wet ground for several kilometres before being taken into tunnels, which she described as "a spider's web."

The hostages were separated by kibbutz and slept on mattresses in the tunnels, where they were fed and visited by paramedics.

Yocheved's husband Oded, who is still being held by Hamas, was described by his family as a lifelong peace activist, who used to drive Gazans to Israel

Yocheved's daughter Sharon, who is a London-based filmmaker, flew to Israel to be by her mother's side and helped her recount her capture and kidnap.

At a press conference in London last week, speaking of her mother’s kidnap, Lifshitz said: “You have to be a special sort of person to take an 85-year-old out of her bed.” They had, she said, “taken her out and disconnected from her oxygen and loaded her onto a motorbike”.

She added that her father met Yassir Arafat, and once fought a successful campaign in the Israeli courts to restore ancestral land to the Bedouin, adding: “We had relationships with many people in Gaza, we were a community that wanted to work together.”

Her father, she said, was not the only Nir Oz resident who used to take Palestinians to hospital: “Others who were slaughtered were part of that.” 

Hamas has now released four hostages, of the more than 220 taken into the Strip, including children and other elderly men and women. Referring to those still being held by Hamas, Yocheved added: "The story's not over until everybody comes back."

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