Israel war 2023
An Israeli mother and her two young daughters suffered “psychological warfare” over the 50 days they were held hostage by Hamas, including being told: “In Israel, no one cares about us.”
Doron Kats Asher and her daughters, 5-year-old Raz and 2-year-old Aviv, were not physically harmed — but they endured intense emotional torment that included watching Asher's mother be shot dead by Hamas as they were forcefully transferred to Gaza. , Asher told CNN.
Asher, 34, and her daughters were initially held in a house in Gaza, where her captors tried to sell them the story that no one was campaigning for their release.
“They didn’t give us much information,” Asher said. “They basically tried to say that Hamas wants to release us, but in Israel, no one cares about us.”
“We will not go back to living in the kibbutz because it is not our home – it is not where we belong.”
But she did not believe this story because the loud sound of fighting outside the building reassured her “that something was happening to bring us home and to pressure Hamas to release us.”
Sixteen days later, Asher and her daughters were transferred to what she called a “so-called” hospital — because the hospital “is a place that is supposed to take care of people, but instead, Hamas took it over and used it.” Asher indicated that it was to hide the hostages.
US officials are “confident” that Hamas used Gaza’s largest hospital to hold “at least a few” of the hostages taken during the deadly October 7 attack on Israel, although it is unclear which hospital the Asher and her daughters detained.
While in the hospital, Aviv developed a fever and had to be placed in a tub of cold water to keep her temperature down.
“She was screaming. They were telling us to be quiet, but the girl had a fever and I had to take care of her somehow,” Asher said.
The family remained in the hospital for approximately five weeks before they were “smuggled” into a Hamas car.
“No one told us that we would be released, so driving on the streets of Gaza was very scary,” Asher said.
As they were being whisked away, thousands of people lining the streets were trying to crash into the vehicle and bang on its windows, Asher recalls, noting that this was the first time Raz said she was afraid.
Asher and her daughters were only three of 105 people released by Hamas during the temporary truce with Israel, which lasted from November 24 to December 1.
Although video footage posted online shows Hamas members transporting hostages to the Red Cross, Asher said the display was a “big show.”
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“Before my release, my daughters and I were barefoot for 50 days. We were cold because they were wearing short sleeves in November. But before they were handed over to Red Cross staff, they were given shoes and Hamas members ‘dressed me in a nice dress,’” Asher said.
A video of Asher and her daughters with their father, Yoni Asher, 37, was shared online in late November, with the trio being part of the first wave of hostages released by Hamas.
Asher says she and her family are trying to regain a sense of normalcy while they await the release of her murdered mother's partner, 79-year-old Gadi Musa, who remains in captivity.
“We are waiting for him,” Asher said. “He will be 80 years old, and he is without his medication.”
Musa and another hostage, Gadi Katzir, 47, were seen in a video released by the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, in December, pleading with the Israeli government to arrange their release.
“He's gotten really thin — we saw it on the video,” Asher said.
“I can't understand what happened to my family, I can't understand the brutality they are doing. People who kill people in their beds. Who does that? This is not humane.”
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