Tel Aviv, Israel – An Israeli 85-year-old freed by Hamas said on Tuesday she ‘went through hell’ during her abduction, but was treated well during more than two weeks held captive in Gaza.
Yocheved Lifshitz was a resident of Nir Oz kibbutz, one of the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip which Hamas fighters attacked on October 7.
“I went through hell, I didn’t think or know I’d get to this situation. They went on a rampage in our kibbutz, kidnapped me, lay me over a motorcycle… and sped off with me through the ploughed fields,” she said a day after her release.
“The guys beat me on the way, they didn’t break my ribs but hurt me there very much,” Lifshitz said.
“They treated us well,” she told reporters at a Tel Aviv hospital, explaining a doctor visited her and fellow hostages every two to three days and provided medicines.
Her husband, also in his 80s, is among more than 200 hostages still being held in Gaza.
“They treated us gently, and provided all our needs,” she said, when asked why she reached out to shake the hand of a militant the moment she was freed.
Lifshitz described her captors as ‘very friendly’ and ‘very courteous’ people who held her with four other captives.
“They seemed ready for this, they prepared for a long time, they had everything that men and women needed, including shampoo,” she told journalists.
“We ate the same food they did – pitas with cream cheese, melted cheese, cucumbers. That was a meal for an entire day,” said Lifshitz.
The octogenarian was released along with fellow Nir Oz resident Nurit Cooper (79) three days after an American woman and her daughter were freed.
No success in freeing Russians: Kremlin
The Kremlin on Tuesday said it had not succeeded in freeing Russian hostages being held by Hamas and did not know how many of its citizens had been taken.
Russia has working relations with Israel as well as Hamas, and when the Palestinian group took more than 200 hostages during its attack on Israel this month, Moscow launched a diplomatic effort to try to free them.
“Indeed, we have not succeeded so far, but we will continue,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, when asked about Moscow’s efforts to secure the release of Russian citizens. “We don’t have exact information about how and when they can be returned at the moment,” Peskov added.
He added Moscow will “continue our contacts with all sides”.
Hamas has freed four women – two Americans and two Israelis – in recent days.
Moscow said it could not say how many Russian citizens were among the hostages.
“It’s not appropriate to give approximate figures. I can’t tell you the exact amount,” Peskov said.
Russia’s Ambassador to Israel, Anatoly Viktorov, told state media last week that there were at least two hostages that had dual Russian and Israeli citizenship, but said the number could be bigger.
Hamas fighters stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7.
They killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.
More than 5,700 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip in relentless Israeli bombardments in retaliation for the attacks, according to the latest toll from the Hamas health ministry in Gaza.