'I've been through hell': Freed Israeli hostage says she was beaten first but Hamas treated her well during captivity

The 85-year-old woman said a doctor had visited her and made sure she and other hostages received the same sort of medicines they had been taking in Israel

By Reuters

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Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was held hostage in Gaza, waves to the media, a day after being released by Hamas. — AP
Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was held hostage in Gaza, waves to the media, a day after being released by Hamas. — AP

Published: Tue 24 Oct 2023, 2:29 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Oct 2023, 3:37 PM

An elderly Israeli hostage who was released by Hamas overnight said she had been beaten by militants as she was taken into Gaza on October 7, but was then treated well during her two-week captivity in the Palestinian enclave.

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, was one of two women freed late on Monday, leaving around 220 hostages still in the hands of Hamas.


"I've been through hell, we didn't think or know we would get to this situation," she told reporters, seated in a wheelchair outside the Tel Aviv hospital where she was taken following her release.

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Looking frail, Lifshitz said she had been put on a motorbike and driven from her kibbutz into nearby Gaza.

Reuters
Reuters

"When I was on the bike, my head was on one side and the rest of my body on the other side. The young men hit me on the way. They didn't break my ribs but it was painful and I had difficulty breathing."

Once in Gaza, she said her captors took her into tunnels that she compared to a spider's web, and treated her well.

Lifshitz said a doctor had visited her and made sure she and other hostages received the same sort of medicines they had been taking in Israel.

She said the Israeli military had not taken the threat of Hamas seriously enough, and that the costly security fence meant to keep militants out "didn't help at all".

'Very friendly'

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 captives as "very friendly" and "very courteous" people who had organised well in advance for taking hostages.

"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 alongside fellow Nir Oz resident Nurit Cooper, 79, three days after an American woman and her daughter were freed.

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