February 23, 2024

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Noam and Alma Or: Two teenage Israeli brothers released from Hamas captivity, only to learn their mother had been murdered

Noam and Alma Or: Two teenage Israeli brothers released from Hamas captivity, only to learn their mother had been murdered



CNN

For the 50 days that Noam and Alma Or were detained in Gaza, there was one idea that kept the brothers going: reuniting with their mother, from whom they had been separated on October 7 during Hamas’ brutal attacks on their community.

But when Naoum, 17, and Alma, 13, were released together on Saturday, “this dream of her death was shattered,” said the brothers’ uncle, Ahl Bisoray.

“My sister, their mother, was killed on October 7,” he told CNN from the Philippines. “The children didn’t know it.” “We thought they were together when they were kidnapped, but they were separated from the beginning.”

“When they first crossed the border and met their grandmother and older brother, the first news they had to face was the fact that their mother was no longer alive. That was a very emotional and traumatic moment for them,” Pisorai added.

The father of the Dror siblings is still missing, and is believed to be a prisoner in Gaza.

The family lived in Kibbutz Be’eri, a close-knit farming community of about 1,100 people, located near the Gaza border. But the idyllic kibbutz became a scene of bloodshed and destruction on October 7, as one of the main targets of Hamas militants who poured across the border and laid siege to neighboring communities.

The gunmen killed more than 120 Be’eri residents, including children, and kidnapped others. They set fire to people’s homes and plundered, stole, and destroyed what they could. In all, about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, were killed by Hamas fighters in southern Israel that day.

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In the midst of this chaos and terror, Naoum and Alma were separated from their parents and held hostage by Hamas. While in Gaza, they were taken to a house and held in a room with another woman from the kibbutz, said Pisoray, who also grew up in Be’eri.

He did not describe in detail what the siblings went through, saying he did not want to increase the burden on the families whose loved ones are still being held hostage. But he said: “It was not fun, to say the least.” It was terrible.”

‘She had to say goodbye to her mother’: Uncle of 13-year-old girl released by Hamas speaks to CNN

Hamas is believed to have held more than 200 hostages in Gaza before their release was negotiated with Israel. Under the compromised truce agreement, groups of Israeli and other citizens have been released every day since last Friday, while Israel has released detained Palestinian women and children from its prisons, many of whom have not been charged or sentenced.

The initial four-day truce was extended for an additional two days on Monday, as stories began to trickle in from families of freed hostages, giving the first insights into what life was like in captivity.

Noam, Alma and the third woman in their room shared their diaries, but the siblings were not allowed to bring them with them during their release, Pisoray said. He added that in fact, they did not realize they had been released at all, and Hamas took measures to hide this fact from the third hostage.

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The gunmen took the brothers out of the room “under the pretext that they were going to the toilet, then they handcuffed them, blindfolded them, and took them to the car that transported them to the place where they would be handed over to the Red Cross.” Bisurai said. “They tried to hide it from the lady who stayed behind, all on her own — so maybe (it) put some psychological pressure on her.”

Even after what the siblings endured, Naoum – whom Pisoray described as a “beautiful person” – expressed his sympathy for those living in crisis-hit Gaza, where more than 14,800 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks since October 7 according to Hamas statements. Run health authorities there.

“When they were walking (from the Hamas vehicle) to the Red Cross, holding hands, Noam told his sister, Alma, that he felt very sorry that they were surrounded by the people of Gaza, the civilians. “I feel very sorry for them because they are staying here, and we are returning home,” Pisorai said.

Now that the siblings are free, the family is focusing on their recovery; They’ve lost weight over the past two months, but otherwise are doing “fairly well,” Pisorai said. However, he is concerned about the toll they have taken in captivity, and the trauma that may continue.

“When I talked to them, the first time I talked to Alma, her 13-year-old niece, she had a really big smile and bright eyes when she came on the Zoom call,” he said.

“And this is what stuck in my mind: What is behind those sparkling eyes? What is their depths after this terrible ordeal? It is very difficult for me to evaluate.”

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