Enlarge image

Hamas member, hostage and Red Cross medic at the release on Sunday night: "We didn't feel safe until the last moment"

Photo: Hamas Media Office / AFP

Now that two groups of Hamas hostages have been released, details about the conditions of their detention are gradually becoming public. For example, the Israeli TV channel Channel 12 publishes reports of freed residents of the village of Nir Oz. They were not tortured or ill-treated, they say, but were given little food that they prepared for themselves and their children.

In the last two weeks of captivity, supplies were slowly running out. Channel 12 quotes the cousin of one of the freedmen as saying: "There were days when there were no supplies, so they only ate flatbread. They were not tortured, but there were days when they hardly had anything to eat, in the last few days they only ate rice."

They slept on rows of plastic chairs, which are often used in waiting rooms, according to a report in the Times of Israel. If they needed to go to the bathroom, they would have had to knock on the door. Sometimes up to an hour and a half passed before they were allowed to leave, it continues. According to Haaretz, guards always carried weapons and their faces were not covered. Again and again, Hamas members made a movement with their hands, as if their heads were being cut off, it continues.

She learned from the radio that her husband had been murdered

Occasionally, the hostages were allowed to listen to Israeli radio, reports Channel 12. In this way, one of the abductees, Hana K., learned that her husband had been murdered. She only found out later that her son was still alive, but also in the hands of Hamas, when she was on her way to Israel.

Until shortly before their release, the abductees were apparently afraid that Hamas would not keep its promises. As they sat in the Red Cross vehicles and drove towards Israel, they were pelted with stones. "We didn't feel safe until the last moment," one of the abductees is quoted as saying. "We thought they were going to lynch us on the way to Israel."

It was only when they arrived in Israel that the released prisoners learned of the extent of the October 7 attacks. That their kibbutz Nir Oz has burned down in large parts, that 1200,<> Israelis are dead, that the remaining residents of Nir Oz have been evacuated to the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

In its terrorist attack on October 7, Hamas deported a total of about 240 people to the Gaza Strip. On Friday, a first group of 24 hostages was released, including four German-Israelis. On Saturday evening, a second group was released, and the Red Cross brought 13 Israelis – including four German-Israelis – and four Thai citizens across the border into Egypt. After crossing the border, the hostages were flown to a hospital in Israel, including Irish-Israeli Emily. Israel had released 39 Palestinian offenders from custody in exchange on Saturday evening.