Freed hostage describes abuse by Hamas abductors

October 24, 2023

Yocheved Lifshitz, an 85-year-old who was held hostage by Hamas, described her abduction on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, saying, “I went through hell.”

Lifshitz, along with 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, was released from Hamas’ captivity on Monday and delivered to the Red Cross in Gaza. Their release followed that of two  two American women—mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan of Evanston, Illinois—who were freed on “humanitarian grounds” Friday because the mother is in poor health.

All were among more than 200 people taken hostage, including dozens of kids, amid Hamas’ massive surprise attack on Israel on October 7. Officials from Qatar and Egypt have been negotiating for the captives’ release.

Lifshitz and Cooper were abducted from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Both of their husbands—Oded Lifshitz and Amiram Cooper—continue to be held hostage in Gaza.

On Tuesday Yocheved Lifshitz recounted how Hamas militants snatched her from her home and took her to Gaza on a motorbike. She described her abduction as a “painful act” during which she was beaten and bruised by members of the terrorist organization, even though her captors promised “not to harm” her or the other hostages.

Lifshitz further described being forced to walk on wet ground through a spider-webbing underground tunnel system.

Hamas has been using the underground tunnels for years to store weapons, and they are reported to be the hiding place of Hamas’ leader Yahya Sinwar, who has been seen in public only a handful of times since 2021.

According to Lifshitz, she was initially grouped with 25 other hostages before her captors separated her into a smaller group of just four from her kibbutz. She said they slept on mattresses on the floor of the tunnels, ate the same food as Hamas fighters and received regular treatment from doctors to ensure they “didn’t get sick.”

She also described a lot of women who “know about feminine hygiene and they took care of everything there” among the Hamas captors.

Though she described her abduction as “very, very difficult and unpleasant,” particularly as Hamas militants broke through her kibbutz’s “expensive” fences meant to keep out attackers, she said that while in captivity, “They were very generous to us, very kind. They kept us clean.”

Lifshitz ended her remarks by insisting that “the story’s not over until everybody comes back.”

PHOTO: Yocheved Lifshitz (left) and Nurit Cooper (courtesy of families)

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