Hamas releases video of them releasing two elderly women
A British woman said she “cannot put into words” her relief after Hamas released her 85-year-old mother from captivity.
Yochved Lifshitz was released alongside Nurit Cooper, 79 on Monday, with footage showing the moment they were handed over to the Red Cross at the Rafah crossing by black-clad masked Hamas gunmen.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the women will now be taken to a hospital in Israel where they will be reunited with their families.
Just as she is about to leave the gunmen, Ms Lifshitz turned to one of them and said: “Shalom” – the Jewish word for peace and harmony.
Speaking from hospital after her release, she said she had “been through hell” during her capture.
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She said she suffered bruises after being hit with sticks, and struggled to breathe. Helping her recount the ordeal, Ms Lifshitz’ daughter, British citizen Sharone Lifshitz, 52, said she was taken into a “huge network” of underground tunnels.
Sharone said of her mother’s return: “I can confirm that my mother Yochi (Yocheved) Lifshitz was one of two hostages released to the Red Cross this evening.
“While I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those – some 200 innocent people – who remain hostages in Gaza.”
Both Ms Lifshitz and Ms Cooper were kidnapped from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz during the October 7 massacre. Their husbands were taken with them.
Hamas said it had released the two women for humanitarian reasons, days after freeing an American woman and her teenage daughter.
Sharone earlier told the Daily Mail: “My father is 83 and my mother is 85. She needs oxygen and he has a lung disease. They cannot survive on their own in this environment’, she said at the time.
“What kind of person would do this? In my life I just cannot imagine a type of person that could do this.
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“My father is not the enemy. He spent his retirement driving Palestinians from the border to and from the hospital. He is not the enemy. He believes in humanity in all people.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the department welcomed the release of two further hostages, three days after an American woman and her teenage daughter were let go.
A spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of loved ones still being held captive, as they endure unimaginable anguish and worry at this time.
“We will continue to work tirelessly with Qatar, Israel and others to ensure all hostages come home safely.”
Khaled Meshaal, the former leader of Hamas, said that if Israel reduced its air assault on Gaza, it would free all of the hostages.
He said: “Let them stop this aggression and you will find the mediators like Qatar and Egypt and some Arab countries and others will find a way to have them released and we’ll send them to their homes.”
Further pleas for Hamas to give up its hostages are expected to be made on Tuesday, during a press conference with affected families at the Israeli Embassy in London.
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