Israeli siblings released by Hamas learn their mother was killed

Israeli siblings, 13 and 16, freed after 50-day kidnap hell were then left devastated to learn their mother was murdered by Hamas and their father is still missing, their British uncle reveals

  • Noam and Alma Or, aged 16 and 13, were released by Hamas captors on Saturday
  • Their mother Yonat, 50, was killed on October 7, and father Dror is still missing 

A pair of Israeli siblings released by Hamas after 50 days in captivity emerged this weekend to face another nightmare as they learned their mother had been slaughtered by the terrorists, while their father remains missing.

Noam and Alma Or, aged 16 and 13, are two of 58 hostages freed thus far under a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.

They were greeted by joyful grandparents, as well as their older brother Yali, 18, before undergoing medical checks following their lengthy captivity. 

But the teens’ elation at regaining their freedom quickly evaporated when they were informed by their uncle, Ahal Besorai, that their mum Yonat had been gunned down by Hamas attackers in kibbutz Be’eri on October 7.

Besorai, a British-Israeli lawyer, told The Guardian how the kids broke down upon hearing their mother’s fate.

‘Unfortunately, they were not aware that my sister, their mum, was murdered,’ he said.

‘Suddenly they come to see their loved ones for the first time in 50 days and the first piece of news that they are confronted with is that their mum is no longer alive. I think it was very traumatic, there were a lot of tears, a lot of pain.’

Noam and Alma Or, aged 16 and 13, are two of 58 hostages freed thus far under a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas

Dror Or and Yonat Or are pictured in this undated photo. Yonat was killed by Hamas attackers in the October 7 slaughter – Dror remains missing, presumed kidnapped

The Or family are pictured in this undated photo

Yonat Or, her husband Dror and their teenage daughter Alma, 13

Embracing one another in the hospital, the family learned for the first time the horrifying details of the siblings’ separation from their parents during the attack on the kibbutz Be’eri. 

Speaking with their uncle via Zoom, the children told Besorai they were sheltering in a safe room as the attack unfolded, but were forced to escape when Hamas gunmen set their house ablaze. 

Jumping from a window, they sought refuge elsewhere but were spotted by Hamas attackers and dragged into a stolen car before being abducted and driven to Gaza.

There they were held in a single room for 50 days, keeping only each other’s company and that of one other woman, with whom Noam and Alma said they formed a close bond. The trio supported one another in difficult moments, Besorai said. 

‘They were held the two of them together with another lady. I know who she is and they left her behind, they did not release her, so she’s now on her own in that godforsaken place,’ he added.

‘I think what they did is, they smuggled the children to the toilets so she wouldn’t know that they’re going to be released and then taped the children’s eyes and took them in their car to wherever in order to hand them over to the Red Cross.’

Besorai then told the siblings the gunmen did not spare Yonat, shooting her in cold blood as she tried to hide. 

The fate of their father, Dror, is still unknown – he is missing, presumed kidnapped.

Besorai told how seeing his niece and nephew released and safe in an Israeli hospital reduced him to tears.

‘The first image of Alma on the screen was her bright, glittery eyes and big smile. Obviously she has lost weight and looks much, much slimmer, but her beautiful smile and glittering eyes warms your heart so I started to cry.’

He added: ‘Noam was very talkative and wanting to share. He shared some personal stuff that he was going through – maybe talking about it for the first time with someone who loves him and cares for him will help him to heal.’

Yonat Or was gunned down by Hamas attackers in kibbutz Be’eri on October 7

Mourners attend the funeral of Yonat Or, at Palmachim cemetery on October 29, 2023 in Kibbutz Palmachin, Israel. Mrs Or was killed in the attacks on Kibbutz Be’ eri on Oct 7

Thomas Hand, father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand , said his nine-year-old daughter has ‘lost a lot of weight’ after she was finally reunited with her family on Saturday

Emily is pictured reuniting with her father while Hila Rotem (second from left), whose mother is still held hostage, reunites with a family member

While some hostages like Noam and Alma are forced to confront a new reality in which their parents are dead or kidnapped, others were fortunate to be reunited with their families.

The father of Hamas hostage Emily Hand said his nine-year-old daughter has ‘lost a lot of weight’ but said she returned ‘in once piece’.

Thomas Hand, 63, said he hoped that Emily – who spent her ninth birthday inside the terror tunnels of Gaza – will recover physically and mentally from the torment of being held captive for 50 days.

Emily’s father told The Sun : ‘We got Emily back from the hands of the Gazan terrorists.

‘She’s lost a lot of weight from her face and body, but generally doing better than we expected.’

Footage shared last week shows Emily running into her father’s arms before they share an emotional embrace. Mr Hand later revealed he had been too scared to hug her tightly given her weight loss, but vowed to throw her the ‘biggest birthday party ever’.

Speaking to The Mirror ahead of his daughter’s release, Mr Hand said: ‘We have been waiting for far too long for this moment. Every day has been a long and painful living nightmare.… my Emily is coming home at last, broken but in one piece.’

Following her release, her family added in a statement: ‘Emily has come back to us. We can’t find the words to describe our emotions after 50 challenging and complicated days.

‘We are overjoyed to embrace Emily again, but at the same time, we remember all the hostages who have yet to return.

‘We want to express our gratitude to everyone who helped and supported us during the last 50 days until Emily’s return.

‘We appreciate the unwavering support as we continue our efforts for the safe return of all.’

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