Israeli woman describes being rescued by the IDF from Hamas fighters who took her hostage and massacred her village – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

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DAVID RAUDALES UK

Israeli woman describes being rescued by the IDF from Hamas fighters who took her hostage and massacred her village

Adi Efrat poses for a photograph.

Eyal Warshavsky/BILD

An Israeli woman living on Kibbutz Be’eri was taken hostage by Hamas fighters on Saturday.She relayed the traumatic experience, and how she was freed by IDF soldiers, to Bild reporters.At least 10% of her rural community died following the surprise attack, officials said.

An Israeli woman shared her harrowing experience of being taken hostage by Hamas fighters, and then being rescued by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, during an attack that claimed the lives of at least 10% of her rural community.

Adi Efrat, 51, met with a reporter from Bild, which is owned by Axel Springer, Insider’s publisher, at an evacuation center following the attack on Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel on Saturday.

The farming community, near the Gaza border, had a population of a little more than 1,000 people before Saturday. But Israeli officials say they have found 107 bodies there, after Hamas fighters targeted it as part of its surprise attacks launched over the weekend.

Speaking to Bild, Efrat described what unfolded when dozens of Hamas militants infiltrated the kibbutz, shooting residents, taking hostages, and setting fire to houses.

She said she started receiving WhatsApp messages from concerned neighbors in the morning, saying that fighters had entered the kibbutz and started setting homes ablaze. Others said that people had been wounded by grenades.

At the time, she was in a safe room in her home. But she said she heard Hamas militants forcibly breaking down her door and entering the house.

“They opened the safe room door and I saw their faces,” she said, adding that they were wearing civilian clothing.

Efrat said the fighters told her they wouldn’t hurt her and only wanted the keys to the kibbutz’s vehicles.

As they made their way toward where the cars were stored, she could hear gunshots in the distance, Efrat recalled.

“They heard the gunshots, they started running, and forced me to run with them,” she said. “They were running west and I thought west is Gaza, it is not good for me and I don’t want to be there.”

Efrat said she was taken to the yard of an elderly resident, who was handcuffed to her caregiver.

Efrat was also handcuffed, from behind in a “very hard, very painful” way, she said, adding that all those in the yard were instructed to remain silent.

One of the militants then brought a toddler to the yard, with Efrat saying she was afraid they would shoot him because he was trying to run away.

Another child, about eight years old, arrived with his mother, who appeared to have sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen, Efrat said.

According to Efrat, the mother told them that Hamas fighters had shot her husband, and that her three-month-old baby had also been fatally shot in the head.

Bild’s Paul Ronzheimer interviews Adi Efrat in Israel.

Eyal Warshavsky/BILD

The militants initially instructed Efrat, the elderly woman, and her caregiver to follow them, but later changed their minds and requested Efrat accompany them alone.

“You should know if you do what we say you going to be OK,” they told her, adding: “This family didn’t listen, that’s why we shot them.”

Efrat added that she felt like she was being used as a “human shield.”

The Hamas fighters asked her to help extract people from a vehicle, though she was uncertain if they were dead or alive, she said.

But as she approached the car, a gunshot rang out, and three militants rushed toward her, seizing her by the hands and telling her to run, she said.

She was then brought to a burning house, she said, adding: “There were many terrorists there, they were very organized and had lots of weapons.”

From another room she heard them continuing their fight. “They were fighting from inside that room, a meter away from me,” she said.

Gradually, the militants began to go elsewhere, and Efrat overheard voices speaking in Hebrew.

Realizing that IDF soldiers were approaching, she said she made her presence known.

“They sent one group to clear the house and told me, ‘You are safe, you are with us; we are going to take care of you,'” Efrat recalled.

According to The Times of Israel, it took about 17 hours for Israeli security forces to free all the hostages on the kibbutz.

Efrat said that she saw four soldiers get wounded, one of whom was a commander.

According to the Israeli embassy in the US, at least 1,000 Israelis, most of them civilians, have been killed as of Tuesday, and more than 100 Israeli hostages may have been taken into Gaza by Hamas, a senior Israeli military official told The New York Times.

Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes have also killed at least 704 people in Gaza, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health.

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