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21 April, 2024
 
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Families reveal painful ordeal amid Israel's war

Hamas' chilling warning sparks fear for hostage lives in Israel

Source: NBC News

Amid the devastating war in Israel, relatives of hostages have had to learn of their kidnappings through frantic, whispered phone calls and videos posted to social media. The stakes rose Monday as Hamas threatened to start executing hostages if Israel bombs civilian targets in Gaza.

The exact number of people abducted remains unclear. Militants have claimed more than 100, but the Israeli Defense Forces estimated late Monday that more than 30 people were held by Hamas in Gaza.

These accounts of their kidnappings are based on interviews with the families and, in many cases, videos showing apparent abductions. In some instances, groups of relatives disappeared at the same time, and family members are left to wonder whether they are alive and missing, among the hostages or dead.

Clockwise from top left, Erez Kalderon, 12, Ofer Kalderon, 50, Sahar Kalderon, 14, Noya Dan, 13, and Carmela Dan, 80. (Courtesy Abbey Onn)
Clockwise from top left, Erez Kalderon, 12, Ofer Kalderon, 50, Sahar Kalderon, 14, Noya Dan, 13, and Carmela Dan, 80. (Courtesy Abbey Onn)

Carmela Dan has lived on the same kibbutz for 60 years, finding tranquillity in a community of several hundred people who shared meals in lush green gardens.

On Saturday, she hid in a safe room with her three grandchildren and son-in-law, Ofer Kalderon — the father of Sahar Kalderon and Erez Kalderon — while militants threw smoke grenades into homes trying to lure residents out, said her cousin Abbey Onn.

Onn had been keeping tabs on the family via a WhatsApp chat when she suddenly stopped hearing from Dan and others after Israeli officials warned residents to stop using their cellphones.

Onn still had not heard from her relatives until Sunday, when a colleague said one of the children, Onn’s second cousin, had been spotted in an Instagram video posted by an influencer. It shows 12-year-old Erez Kalderon being manhandled by a militant as he appears to be taken captive.

“I burst into tears. I started shaking,” Onn said. “I’m a mother of three. This is just every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Onn described her cousin, Dan, as one of the funniest, most generous people she has ever known. She and her family and neighbors frequently shared meals in the lush gardens of the kibbutz, Onn said.

“She and her husband helped build this legacy and felt deeply connected to the land,” Onn said of Dan, whose husband died several years.

“It was her kind of beauty,” she added.

Yoni Asher's wife, Doron Asher Katz, and daughters Raz and Aviv. (via Facebook)
Yoni Asher's wife, Doron Asher Katz, and daughters Raz and Aviv. (via Facebook)

On Saturday, Israel resident Yoni Asher’s wife, Doron Katz, called him to say terrorists had descended on a home where she and her relatives were hiding. The last thing she told him, he said, was that the militants were armed and that she feared talking too loudly on the phone.

Later he watched on social media as a disturbing video emerged appearing to show his wife, two young daughters, ages 5 and 2, and his mother-in-law being taken by Hamas and crammed onto the back of a vehicle. He believed his father-in-law had also been abducted.

“The worst has happened — they discovered them and took them,” Asher said.

His wife and mother-in-law both have German citizenship, and he has been in touch with the German embassy, but he remains frustrated by the lack of updates.

“I just want my little baby girls back home with my wife,” he said.

Video shows the kidnapping of Shiri Silberman-Bibas and her children. (via X)
Video shows the kidnapping of Shiri Silberman-Bibas and her children. (via X)

Yifat Zailer has been desperate for news about her six missing relatives for days.

Zailer said a friend messaged her a video showing Hamas militants capturing her cousin Silberman-Bibas, 30, as she clutched her two small boys, who are 9 months and 3 years old.

She presumes that Silberman-Bibas’ 37-year-old husband and her parents, Yosi and Margit Silberman, were also kidnapped, because their bodies were not among the hundreds found in the area.

Zalier said she has not heard from Silberman-Bibas or her husband or parents.

“I miss my family. I need them close,” she said, breaking down in sobs. “I need to know they’re OK.”

Zailer said she understands that Israeli authorities are most likely consumed by the “magnitude of the event” and are struggling to keep civilians informed. But she remains desperate for news.

“Families are crying for help,” she said. “Families are looking for their loved ones.”

Noa Argamani. (via Facebook)
Noa Argamani. (via Facebook)

In a viral video recorded Saturday morning, Noa Argamani screams and reaches for her boyfriend as Hamas militants force her on the back of a motorcycle during a music festival, driving off into the desert.

Her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, was overtaken by another group of men and is presumed to have been kidnapped.

Her father, Yaacov Argamani, struggled to breathe as he told reporters that Noa, his only child, is sweet and loving.

Asked what he would tell his daughter’s captors, he said through heavy sobs: “Please, please, I beg you, don’t hurt her.”

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Israel  |  families  |  war  |  Hamas  |  Gaza

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