She was 'neglected during her entire period there'

Daughter of critically ill 84-year-old freed hostage: Red Cross ‘abandoned’ her

Tali Amano says that her mother, Elma Avraham, didn’t receive any of her vital medications while in captivity, even after her son brought them to representatives of the aid group

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Tali Amano, left, speaks at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba about the condition of her mother Elma Avraham, right, who is in critical condition after being released by the Hamas terror group, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot/Courtesy)
Tali Amano, left, speaks at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba about the condition of her mother Elma Avraham, right, who is in critical condition after being released by the Hamas terror group, November 27, 2023. (Screenshot/Courtesy)

Elma Avraham, the 84-year-old who was abducted from her home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on October 7 and freed Sunday evening from Gaza, is still hospitalized in critical condition and did not receive any treatment while in captivity, her family and doctors said Monday afternoon.

Avraham’s children blasted the Red Cross for refusing to try to bring lifesaving medications to their mother during the 51 days she was held hostage by Hamas terrorists.

Avraham was flown by helicopter directly from Gaza to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba due to her condition, and remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit in life-threatening condition.

“She’s in a very bad condition,” said Dr. Tzachi Slotsky, deputy administrator of Soroka. He said when Avraham arrived at the hospital, her body temperature was very low, and had she not been released on Sunday, her condition would have worsened.

When Avraham arrived at Soroka, she was not fully conscious, said Dr. Haggai Levine, who has been heading the medical care faction at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum since October 7. “Now she has a life-threatening condition that could have been avoided,” he said.

“We waited for our mother for 52 days,” said Tal Amano, Avraham’s daughter. “She is 84. A grandmother. A great-grandmother. She’s a happy, optimistic person. She lived alone at home, she was independent. Yes, she has several medical conditions.”

Illustrative: Wounded people arrive at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, August 24, 2023. (Flash90)

“They abandoned my mother from a health perspective,” added Amano. “My mother didn’t have to return like this. It was neglect during her entire period there. She didn’t receive her lifesaving medications. She was abandoned twice, once on October 7 and a second time by all the organizations that should have saved her and prevented her condition.”

Avraham’s children gathered all of their mother’s medications, with the help of her doctors, and Amano’s brother Uri Rawitz brought them to a meeting with the Red Cross.

He tried to give them to the Red Cross and “they said no,” said Amano. “We can’t.”

The family tried to give the medications again to the Red Cross at a rally outside their Tel Aviv offices, but to no avail.

“We need to yell at the Red Cross,” she said. “Why are they there if they don’t do anything?”

Avraham arrived at Soroka with a heartrate of 40 and a body temperature of 28°C (82.4°F), added Amano.

“We have no idea how she got through those days,” said Amano, thanking the hospital for its care and expressing hope it would succeed in nursing her mother back to help.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and the families of Gaza hostages meet with ICRC chief Mirjana Spoljaric Egger in Geneva, Switzerland on November 14, 2023. (International Red Cross)

Amano’s brother Lior Ravitz added that all the hostages require medical care, and his mother’s condition is proof of the cruelty of Hamas.

Levine emphasized that he had been in touch with Avraham’s children when she was taken captive on October 7, and knew what medical conditions she had and what medications she was taking.

“She needs those medications to survive,” said Levine. “She was a well-functioning woman before and could live for many years.”

Levine reiterated the demand he made many times over the last 52 days, asking world leaders to do anything they can to reach the other hostages, to get them the medications they need so that they can survive.

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan seemed to confirm Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that the Red Cross would visit those Gaza hostages who are not being released in the current temporary truce deal.

Sullivan seemed to indicate that Red Cross staffers would visit the hostages and relay their conditions, after the fourth group of hostages are released Monday night.

“We need to save the lives that can be saved,” said Levine.

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