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War in Israel Israeli Flag

לסיפורים בעברית

Tales of Hope, Resilience, and Tragedy as released hostages tell their story

Merav Mor Raviv

Photo from the IDF

In the small town of Nir Oz, anticipation hung heavy in the air as Friday approached, bringing with it the long-awaited return of the abductees. The community held its collective breath, torn between the hope of welcoming back the children and women who had been taken and the lingering worry for those still in captivity. The freed women, their faces etched with the painful imprints of their ordeal, began to share their harrowing tales, exposing the stark reality that awaited them upon their return.

Among them was Keren Monder's cousin, Merav Mor Raviv, who had come back that fateful evening. In a trembling voice, she recounted the days when sustenance was scarce, and pita bread became their meager sustenance. Though they had not endured physical torture, hunger had gnawed at them, with the last few days marked by a pitiful diet of minimal rice. The women spoke of occasional moments when they were permitted to tune in to Israeli radio, a connection to the world outside their captivity. It was through this medium that Hana Katzir discovered the heart-wrenching news of her son's tragic fate. Only later, during the journey back to Israel, did she learn from a friend that her husband, against the odds, remained alive in captivity.

The abductees, recounting their experiences, revealed the constant fear that gripped them as they traveled in Red Cross vehicles, subjected to stone-throwing attacks. One abductee admitted, "Until the last moment, we weren't sure; we thought they would lynch us on the way to Israel." It was only upon their arrival in Israel that the magnitude of the calamity that had befallen their homeland began to unfold. Some were oblivious to the destruction of their kibbutz and the loss of many lives. The chaos of the situation left them in the dark about which family members had been kidnapped and which had tragically perished. Meanwhile, the families back home grappled with the overwhelming task of healing and coming to terms with the unimaginable.

Military commentator Alon Ben David, shedding light on the accounts of the released abductees, shared insights on their testimonies. He revealed that the Shin Bet, mindful of their fragile state, approached them with utmost gentleness. The abductees vividly remembered their descent into captivity, describing a path that nearly the entire Nir Oz community had traversed together. Through a lengthy tunnel, some on motorcycles and others on foot, they covered four to five kilometers, likely leading to the Khan Yunis hospital area, where they spent most of their time together. Astonishingly, they reported no abuse or violence during their captivity, a testament to their collective resilience.

Ben David emphasized, "They describe a situation in which they went through a significant part of the captivity together. This shared experience likely bolstered their ability to endure the harsh conditions and pervasive uncertainty. Some learned of the tragic fate of relatives through the tunnel's radio, while others remained in the dark until Friday evening when family members finally delivered the heart-wrenching news." The echoes of their ordeal resonated through Nir Oz, as the community grappled with the aftermath of a crisis that had left scars on the souls of those who had endured it.

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