JERUSALEM (AP) — Plastic chairs masquerading as beds. Meal of bread and rice. Hours passed waiting for the bathroom. After the hostages returned to Israel Seven weeks of Hamas captivityInformation about the conditions of his imprisonment has begun to come out.
58 hostages were freed under ceasefire agreement The victims have remained out of the public eye for most of the past three days, with most of them still in hospitals across the country.
after about two months Hamas militants They were pulled into Gaza during a bloody cross-border attack on Israel, which also killed 1,200 people. Most of the freed hostages appear to be in stable physical condition.
Information about the conditions of their captivity has been strictly controlled, but family members of released hostages have begun to share details about their loved ones' experiences.
Merav Raviv, whose three relatives were released by Hamas on Friday, said they were fed irregularly and ate mainly rice and bread. She said her cousin and aunt, Karen and Ruth Munder, each lost about seven kilos (15 pounds) in just 50 days.
Raviv said he had heard from his freed family members that they slept on rows of chairs placed close together in a room that looked like a reception area. He said that sometimes he has to wait for hours before going to the bathroom.
Adwa Adar, the grandson of 85-year-old hostage Yafa Adar, who was released, said his grandmother had also lost weight.
"She counted down the days of her captivity. She came back and she said, 'I know I've been there for 50 days,'" Adar said.
Adar said his grandmother was taken captive after being led to believe that her family members were dead, but later received news that they had survived. Nevertheless, his release was bittersweet: he also learned that his home had been destroyed by terrorists.
"For an 85-year-old woman, you usually have your own home where you raised your children, your memories, your photo albums, your clothes," Adar said. Resume. “He said it was difficult for him.”
In the 50 days since the hostages were held, Israel has devastated the Gaza Strip with ground and air strikes, killing at least 13,300 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory's health ministry. Under the current four-day ceasefire, Hamas has agreed to release a total of 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian security prisoners and increasing aid to the beleaguered region.
Eighteen foreign nationals, mostly Thai nationals, have also been released.
Eleven more hostages will be released on Monday, the last day of the ceasefire, leaving about 180 hostages in the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials have said they are willing to extend the ceasefire by one day for every 10 hostages released by Hamas.
The most complete image to date of life under Hamas captivity was created by 85-year-old Yocheved Lipschitz, a hostage who was freed before the current ceasefire. Upon his release Lipschitz said that he had been captured in the tunnels beneath Gaza "Like a spider's web." She said that her captors "told us that they are people who believe in the Quran and will not harm us."
Lifshitz said the detainees were treated well and received medical care, including medication. The guards kept the situation clean, he said. He said that the hostages were given cheese, cucumber and pita once a day and that the captors also ate the same.
Initial indications were that recently freed hostages were also being held underground. Eyal Nouri, the nephew of 72-year-old Adina Moshe, who was released on Friday, said his aunt had to "adjust to sunlight" because she had been in the dark for weeks.
“She was in complete darkness,” Nouri said, walking with her eyes down because she was in a tunnel. He was not used to daylight. And during her captivity, she was completely isolated from the outside world.”
Noori said that Moshe did not know until the last moment that she was going to be released.
“Until he saw the Red Cross,” he said. "This is the moment when he realizes, OK, these terrible seven weeks are over."
She received the news that her husband had been killed by terrorists and that her son's family had miraculously survived.
Doctors have warned of the serious psychological harm of imprisonment. Israel has provided counseling and other assistance to those released.
But most of the freed hostages are in good physical condition, able to walk and speak normally.
But at least two required more serious medical care. One hostage freed on Sunday, 84-year-old Alma Abraham, was taken in life-threatening condition to Israel's Soroka Medical Center in the southern city of Beersheba.
The hospital director said that he had a pre-existing condition that had not been properly treated in captivity. Another young female hostage was seen on crutches in a video released by Hamas on Saturday. When the girl entered the Red Cross vehicle that brought her out of the besieged area, she glared at her captors.
Yair Rotem, whose 12-year-old niece, Hila Rotem-Shoshani, was released on Sunday, said he has to keep reminding her that she doesn't need to whisper.
"They always tell her to whisper and be quiet, so I keep telling her now she can speak up," Rotem said. He said Hila, who will celebrate her 13th birthday on Monday, slept well during her first night in Israel and was hungry.
Raviv's 9-year-old nephew, Ohad Mundar, was surrounded by friends shortly after his release as they celebrated his ninth birthday with ice cream and pizza in the hospital ward, a month late.
Ohad's friend Eitan Wilchik told Israel's Channel 13 that his friend was "emotionally strong" and already able to answer questions about what he ate and what happened to him during his captivity. But Ohad's friends declined to share details, saying they wanted to respect her privacy.
Wilchik said teachers have canceled Munder's homework requirements, but his friends will help him make up the subjects he misses in school.
He said Ohad is still able to solve a Rubik's Cube in less than a minute.
Associated Press writer Melanie Lidman contributed reporting from Jerusalem.
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