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Freed Hamas Hostage Describes ‘Spider’s Web’ of Tunnels Beneath Gaza

She said those captured were “scapegoats” of the government, as Israel overlooked the warnings ahead of the attack.

Eighty-five-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz has spoken on her experience of the Oct. 7 assault on her kibbutz by Hamas militants and the terror of being taken hostage into the Gaza Strip, describing it as a “hell that we never knew before and never thought we would experience” as she described the harrowing.

Upon breaching Israel’s multibillion-dollar electric border fence, heavily armed Hamas militants swept across southern Israel, overrunning nearly two dozen communities, military bases, and a desert rave. Lifshitz, a resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, was among the more than 200 Israelis and foreigners captured. The ensuing daylong killing spree claimed the lives of almost 1,400 individuals.

After being held captive for over two weeks, Lifshitz was the first of the four hostages to be freed to talk about their experiences.

Speaking to reporters a day after her release at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, Lifshitz said, “Masses swarmed our houses, beat people, and some were taken hostage. They didn’t care if they were young or old.”

Lifshitz claimed that her attackers forced her onto a motorbike, took off her jewellery and watch, and beat her with sticks, bruising her ribs and making it hard for her to breathe.

After arriving in Gaza, she travelled several kilometres on foot to a system of tunnels that, in her words, “looked like a spider web.” After arriving in a sizable room where 25 individuals had been brought, she and the other four were thereafter divided into smaller groups.

Lifshitz then said that the people who were assigned to guard her “told us they are people who believe in the Quran and wouldn’t hurt us.”

According to Lifshitz, prisoners received good treatment and medical attention, including medicines. She said that the guards maintained order, telling reporters that the only meal provided to the hostages daily was cheese, cucumber, and pita, and that her captors also had the same food.

Lifshitz and her spouse were peace activists who frequently transported Palestinian patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for medical care. However, while in captivity, the hostages expressed to their captors that they were unwilling to discuss politics.

Lifshitz then claimed that Israel disregarded alerts that suggested something unusual was happening before the strike. She went on to say, “We were the scapegoat of the government. They (Hamas) warned us three weeks before they taught us a lesson. A huge crowd arrived at the road. They burned fields. They sent incendiary balloons to burn the fields, and the army didn’t take it seriously.”

Nurit Cooper, 79, and Lifshitz were the second group of captives to be freed. Two American-Israeli ladies were let free by Hamas on Friday. According to the Israeli government, a primary goal is the safe return of all captives.

Oded, Lifshitz 83-year-old spouse, is still held captive in Gaza.

According to the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry, the attack has killed over 5,000 people. As a result, Israel’s military has begun a catastrophic war on Gaza in an attempt to destroy Hamas and its airstrikes into Gaza.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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