| 23 July 2024, Tuesday |

‘She’s a strong lady,’: Family of abducted elderly Israeli plead for her release

Soon after Hamas gunmen invaded Israel’s villages videos began to emerge of seized Israelis being dragged away into Gaza. One showed an elderly woman, a defiant expression on her face, driven on a golf cart into the Palestinian enclave.

The family of the bespectacled grey-haired woman, wrapped in a pink blanket and later identified as 85-year-old Yafa Adar, recognized her instantly.

“At 9 a.m. she texted us that there are terrorists in the roads of the kibbutz shooting, shouting. That’s the last message we got from her and then we lost contact,” said her granddaughter Adva Adar.

“I have other family that lives in the kibbutz, so we heard from them the horrible things that are happening, that people are getting killed and kidnapped and houses are getting broken and burned to ash.”

In the evening, after soldiers cleared the Nir Oz kibbutz from gunmen, Yaffa’s house was found ransacked. One of her grandsons, on the kibbutz’s volunteer response team, is still missing after confronting the Hamas men.

At least 700 Israelis have been killed in Hamas’ shock attack that has stunned Israel. Scores are missing, including children, many believed to be held by the group inside Gaza. Relatives have seen their loved ones in some videos already.

Adva wells up as she looks at footage of her grandmother being carted through Gaza. In one video she appears to be surrounded by two armed men and a driver. In another, there’s a man next to her in the backseat and the driver is laughing.

“I can’t even start to understand how people think it makes sense to kidnap an 85 years old lady, kidnap babies, kidnap kids,” said Adva. “It’s not human”.

Qatari mediators have held urgent calls to try to negotiate freedom for Israeli women and children seized in exchange for the release of 36 Palestinian women and children from Israel’s prisons, a source briefed on the talks told Reuters.

An Israeli official said no negotiations were underway as aircraft continued to bombard Gaza in retaliation. Explosions could be heard in Luzit, Adva’s village, about 20 miles (32 km)away.

Adva says her grandma was one of the founders of her kibbutz, and has lived through all Israel’s wars. In the videos she appears to be holding her head up high, even smiling some of the time.

“She’s a strong lady. And you can see there, she’s sitting trying to show them, she’s not afraid and she’s not hurt. And if they will take her, they will take her with her pride,” said Adva.

Despite her resolve, Adva said, she is concerned her grandmother’s health will deteriorate rapidly without the medication she needs.

“I have a hope that they will understand that these people have done nothing wrong,” Adva said of the hostages. “I hope they treat them okay. Please bring them back home for us. They have done nothing wrong”.

  • Reuters