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Israel resumes combat operations against Hamas: live updates

7:11 a.m. ET, December 1, 2023

What freed Israeli hostages are saying about their time in captivity

Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters stand guard as Red Cross vehicles transport released hostages towards the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on November 28.

AFP/Getty Images

Kept in the dark. Forced to sit in silence. Fed only meager rations. These and even more chilling scraps of information are beginning to show how hostages survived in Hamas captivity.

Around 240 people, from infants to octogenarians, were taken hostage during Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7. Dozens have been freed but many more remain missing, presumed to be held by the Palestinian militant organization and other groups in Gaza, as the warring sides resume battle.

The Red Cross and other humanitarian groups have not been allowed to visit the hostages. So relatives and the wider watching world have to wait for testimony from those who have been freed to know what might be happening to their loved ones still held in Gaza: whether they have been seen, if they are alive or dead.

The details below have been compiled from comments by freed hostages to their families, their carers and sometimes to reporters.

Under the terms of the deal between Israel and Hamas, most of those released are women, children and foreign workers. As of Friday, only one adult Israeli man – who also had Russian citizenship – had been released and no members of the Israeli military. Hostages are believed to be spread across locations and in the hands of different groups. It’s already seeming that not all hostages were treated the same way; the story of each new person recovered will add to the understanding.

One hostage, Adina Moshe, was dragged from her safe room at home in Israel, taken to Gaza and forced into tunnels five stories underground, her nephew Eyal Nouri said.

“They took her inside the tunnels… she walked, bare feet in the mud of the tunnels,” he told CNN of the first hours of her captivity. “It was very hard to breathe. They marched [for] hours in the tunnels.”

Moshe said his aunt was held in an underground room where the lights were switched on for only two hours a day. The darkness was literal and also figurative, Nouri said. Deprived of any information, their other senses and imaginations became keener.

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