South Africa

Rescued Israeli soldier welcomes hostage releases

Rescued Israeli soldier

An Israeli soldier rescued from the Gaza Strip welcomed releases of her fellow hostages, in her first public comments since she was freed.

An Israeli soldier rescued from the Gaza Strip welcomed on Monday releases of her fellow hostages, in her first public comments since she was freed.

Ori Megidish, 19, was operating an observation post on the heavily-militarised Gaza border when she was seized in the Hamas attacks of October 7.

Her rescue was confirmed by the Israeli military just over three weeks later, but no details have been released of her captivity or the operation to free her.

In a relaxed video filmed at her home and posted to her TikTok account, she said she was “fine” and “happy to see all the moving clips of hostages returning to their families”.

“I hope all the families who are still waiting for their hostages to return will be united and they will be able to celebrate as I did. I hope they will all return with God’s help.”

ALSO READ: South African woman among hostages released during Israel-Hamas truce

A total of 14 hostages with Israel citizenship were returned to Israel on Sunday, the third day of a four-day truce deal with Hamas that will see a total of 50 Gaza captives freed in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners.

“They are in our arms. They are fine, in good condition and they are smiling,” said Inbar Goldstein after her sister-in-law Chen Goldstein-Almog, 48, was released with three of her four children: Agam, 17, Gal, 11 and Tal, eight.

On October 7, when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 240 others, they murdered the children’s father Nadav and their older sister, Yam, with the rest of the family taken to Gaza.

“They know about the terrible tragedy that happened to their family on that black shabbat,” she said in a statement released by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

“Now we’re taking a moment to breathe deeply, to really smile again, to start picking up the pieces and to continue the fight until the last of the abductees returns to us safe and sound.”

ALSO READ: Hamas frees hostages as Gaza truce takes hold

US toddler

Since the October 7 attacks, Israel has hit back with a massive military campaign which Gaza’s Hamas rulers say has killed nearly 15,000 people, two thirds of them women and children.

Negotiations for an extension of the pause in the fighting, and with it more hostage returns, were continuing Monday.

For one family the tension continued after Elma Avraham, 84, was flown to Soroka hospital in the southern city of Beersheva immediately after being released where doctors said she was in “critical condition”.

“She’s being treated in our emergency department after serious neglect for the last several weeks while being held by Hamas,” said Shlomi Codish, head of Soroka hospital.

ALSO READ: Pope meets relatives of Hamas hostages, Palestinian prisoners

The elderly artist was kidnapped from Nahal Oz kibbutz.

Another of the freed hostages was toddler Abigail, a US-Israeli dual citizen whose parents were killed on October 7 and whose case was highlighted by US President Joe Biden.

In a brief statement via the Families Forum, her family confirmed the girl — who turned four in captivity — was safely home but asked for time and privacy to let her recover.

“She just landed in the hospital and she’s been checked and taken care of,” said her aunt Ella Mor. “I just want to say she has family and we are taking care of her.”

– By: © Agence France-Presse

ALSO READ: Families of Gaza hostages, Palestinian prisoners torn between emotions