‘We believe in the Quran’: Released Israeli hostage says Hamas fighters have vowed not to harm him

An elderly Israeli hostage released by Hamas overnight revealed that Hamas fighters had vowed not to harm the hostages and said “they believe in the Quran”.

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, was one of two elderly women freed late Monday, with about 220 hostages still in Hamas hands, including both of their husbands.

She said she was traumatized when she was abducted and taken to Gaza on October 7, but was treated well during her two-week captivity in the Palestinian enclave.

“I’ve been through hell,” Lifshitz told reporters, sitting in a wheelchair outside a Tel Aviv hospital.

Lifshitz, looking weak, said the gunmen had surprised residents by entering his kibbutz, Nir Oz.

“They raided our houses. They beat people. They kidnapped other people, old and young, without any discrimination.”

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan said that a third of Nir Oz’s 400 residents were abducted or murdered on 7 October. No official figures have been given. Israel says a total of 1,400 people were killed by Hamas fighters that day.

Lifshitz himself was put on a motorcycle and taken to nearby Gaza.

“When I was on the bike, my legs were on one side and the rest of the body was on the other. Young men hit me on the way. They didn’t break my ribs, but it hurt and I had trouble breathing.” ,

She said her watch and jewelery were stolen during the trip.

Inside Gaza, a group of hostages were led into what Lifshitz described as a “spider web” of damp tunnels built by Hamas beneath the narrow coastal zone, and eventually reached a large hall.

“When we got there, first of all, they told us that they believed in the Quran and that they would not harm us,” he said.

A group of five people from his kibbutz were kept together, each with a personal guard who accompanied them 24 hours a day. Lifshitz said that a doctor visited him every other day and brought him needed medications.

“They took good care of the wounded,” Lifshitz said.

Video of his release on Monday shows him turning to shake the hand of a masked captor. When asked why he did this, he replied: “They treated us well and provided for all our needs.”

Speaking to Reuters on Monday, his grandson said Lifshitz was a peace activist who helped sick Palestinians in Gaza get medical treatment in Israel, meeting them at the main border crossing and driving them to hospitals. .

Lifshitz on Tuesday criticized the Israeli military for failing to protect southern communities from Hamas attacks, saying the army did not take the threat of attack seriously.

“We were left to fend for ourselves,” he said.

He said the expensive security fence installed to keep them safe “didn’t help at all”.

Hamas has so far released four hostages. Israeli forces dropped leaflets in Gaza on Tuesday, offering a reward and safety for any Palestinian providing information about the hostages.

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