October 24, 2023 | Flash Brief

Ex-Hostage Recounts Hamas Mass-Kidnapping Tactics

October 24, 2023 | Flash Brief

Ex-Hostage Recounts Hamas Mass-Kidnapping Tactics

Latest Developments

An elderly Israeli woman freed from Hamas captivity on October 23 reported that the Palestinian terrorist group had clearly prepared in advance for mass-kidnappings. The hostage, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz, was released along with 79-year-old Nurit Cooper. Their husbands are still missing and presumed to remain in captivity. After receiving medical attention, a frail and wheelchair-bound Lifshitz described her ordeal to reporters as “hellfire, a situation that we did not think or know we could find ourselves in.”

The terrorists who attacked Israel on October 7 were determined to kidnap and murder as many people as possible. They attacked a music festival and systematically killed people in small communities along the border. Documents found on the terrorists reveal they carried an “abduction manual” with instructions on harming and taking hostages. In the wake of her release, Lifshitz’s testimony sheds light on the Hamas abuse of hostages and also on the terrorist group’s network of tunnels under Gaza.

Expert Analysis

“This account puts to rest the pernicious theories about Hamas somehow stumbling upon a bonanza of mass-murder and abductions because of Israel’s failure to stop the October 7 attack. Just as the Palestinian terrorist group has clearly spent years — and untold sums of stolen aid money and Iranian terrorist funding — digging a veritable city of bunkers below ground, taking hostages in large numbers was clearly part of its strategic plan.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Hamas has decided to slowly release several hostages in the wake of its genocidal attack as a way to gain leverage with the West. All of the 220 hostages, including 30 children, must be released and international organizations must have access to them immediately to check on their well-being.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

A Harrowing Ordeal

A veteran peace activist, Lifshitz said she was seized at her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, splayed over a motorbike, and carried back over agriculture fields into the Gaza Strip through a section of the fence that had been blown up by the Palestinians. En route, she said, her captors stole her jewelry and watch and hit her in the ribs, making it hard for her to breathe.

Off-loaded at a tunnel opening, Lifshitz was forced to walk “for two or three hours” through an extensive and humid warren of underground passages. She reached a cavern where she was initially kept among a group of 25 hostages. They were then subdivided into groups of five and placed into separate rooms, each hostage under guard and with a medic present, she said.

Captives and captors ate together and occasionally conversed, she said, though political discussions were avoided. A doctor also came to inspect the hostages every two or three days and provided “more or less” any prescription medicines required. “We lay there on mattresses. They took special care about the sanitary side of things, to ensure we did not, God forbid, end up falling ill in their hands,” she said.

“They seemed prepared for this. They prepared for this for a long time.”

Israel’s Government Responds

Israeli government officials have released the following statement:

“Hamas has adopted Nazi psychological warfare methods for shaping public opinion.

“Just like the Nazis held orchestrated visits for the Red Cross in a “clean” concentration camp in order to present themselves to the world as humane, Hamas—while slaughtering babies, raping women and shooting children—tries to present itself as humane by releasing a handful of the people that they kidnapped and whom they supposedly treated.

“We must never buy into Hamas propaganda.

“Hamas is worse than ISIS.”

Hamas Has Held Hostages in the Past

Hamas has taken hostages in the past. In 2006, Hamas attacked an IDF position and took IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit hostage for five years. In 2014, Hamas killed IDF Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul and holds their bodies to this day. In addition, Hamas has held two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, since 2014.

Israel Screens Graphic Footage to Counter Massacre Denialism,” FDD Flash Brief

10 Things to Know about Hamas,” FDD Insight

Hamas Releases Two American Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief


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