Freed Israeli Hostage Was Held in ‘Spiderweb’ of Tunnels Under Gaza

Yocheved Lifshitz, an 85-year-old Israeli woman, was released after being held hostage for 17 days by Hamas militants in Gaza, beaten in the ribs by her captors, and held in a “spiderweb” of underground tunnels.

Lifshitz was abducted from a kibbutz in southern Israel and on Tuesday, a day after her release, told reporters, “I went through hell.” During a news conference in Tel Aviv, she recalled being put on the back of a motorcycle and being beaten with sticks.

“Many people stormed our homes, they beat people, some of them they abducted, like me,” Lifshitz said, per the New York Times. “It made no difference, they abducted the elderly and the young.” She said she was taken through a network of underground tunnels in Gaza that she described as “a spiderweb,” and brought to a large hall with about 25 other people. Lifshitz said they were treated relatively well and given medicine, offered the same food as their captors, and checked upon by doctors. “They treated us gently and fulfilled all of our needs,” she said, but noted she could not speak on behalf other hostage groups that were held in different areas by different captors.

Lifshitz was released with Nurit Cooper, 79, on Monday; both of their husbands are still being held hostage in Gaza.

Last week, Hamas released two American hostages. Militants for the group that controls Gaza abducted mother and daughter Judith Raanan (who also goes by Yehudit Tai), 59, and Natalie Raanan (Natali Shoshana Raanan), 17, from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, during their invasion on Oct. 7.

Among the 200 hostages held in Gaza, the Times reported last week that the U.S. government believed 20 U.S. citizens had been taken hostage and 14 Americans had died in the incursion.

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