Every day like ‘Russian roulette’: Freed hostages share accounts of Hamas captivity

Sharon Aloni-Cunio fears for life of her husband still held in Gaza; Chen Goldstein-Almog says she met 3 hostages who told her they were sexually assaulted by captors after Oct. 7

Three-year-old twins Emma and Yuli Cunio and their mother Sharon Aloni Cunio leave Schneider Children’s Medical Center on December 7, 2023. (Courtesy of Schneider Children’s Medical Center)
Three-year-old twins Emma and Yuli Cunio and their mother Sharon Aloni Cunio leave Schneider Children’s Medical Center on December 7, 2023. (Courtesy of Schneider Children’s Medical Center)

Nearly two weeks after the collapse of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, freed hostages have increasingly gone public with accounts of their time in captivity.

On Monday, Sharon Aloni-Cunio likened being a hostage in Gaza to “Russian roulette,” saying that every day she feared she and her two young daughters could be executed.

“Every minute is critical. The conditions there are not good and the days go on forever,” she told Reuters. “It’s a Russian roulette. You don’t know whether tomorrow morning, they’ll keep you alive or kill you, just because they want to or just because their backs are against the wall.”

Cunio, 34, and her 3-year-old twins Yuli and Emma were released on November 27, as part of a weeklong ceasefire that saw Hamas release 105 of the roughly 240 hostages abducted during the terror group’s onslaught in southern Israel on October 7.

Still held hostage by Palestinian terrorists when the truce collapsed were 138 people — 114 men, 20 women, and two children — though in recent days the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 18 of the hostages held by Hamas, due to new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

Aloni-Cunio said that her husband David, who is still a hostage, was separated from her and her daughters three days before they were released.

“I am petrified I will get bad news that he is no longer alive,” she was quoted as saying. “We are not just names on a poster. We are human beings, flesh and blood. The father of my girls is there, my partner, and many other fathers, children, mothers, brothers.”

“Every day there is crying, frustration, and anxiety. How long are we going to be here? Have they forgotten about us? Have they given up on us?”

“My children are torn,” she continued. “I am torn without my second half, the love of my life, the father of my daughters, who ask me every day, where is daddy?”

Six members of the Goldstein-Almog family from Kibbutz Kfar Aza. (L-R): Agam, 17, Gal, 11, Nadav (deceased), Chen, 48, Tal, 11 and Yam (deceased). Four members were released on November 26, 2023. (Courtesy)

Chen Goldstein-Almog, who was also freed during the truce, on Monday told the Kan public broadcaster that she met three hostages who told her they were sexually assaulted by their captors, and heard a similar story about a fourth.

“We heard three stories first-hand, and another story that was told to us,” Goldstein-Almog said. “Things that happened a few weeks after they arrived in Gaza. They are physically injured.”

“With the way they sexually assaulted them and desecrated their bodies, they don’t know how they will cope,” she added. “If they had been released earlier, they would have been spared. We also saw a guy who was beaten.”

“Everything must be done to get them out.”

There have been multiple accounts of rape and sexual assault by Palestinian terrorists on October 7, and a doctor who treated some of the hostages released by Hamas said at least 10 of them — both men and women — were sexually assaulted or abused while in captivity.

Goldstein-Almog, 48, and three of her four children, Agam, 17, Gal, 11, and Tal, 9, were released on November 26, as part of the hostage release deal. Her husband Nadav and eldest daughter Yam were murdered on October 7.

Protesters gather with signs showing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 Hamas massacres, during a demonstration calling for their release outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, now informally called, ‘Hostages Square,’ in Tel Aviv, on December 9, 2023. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

On Saturday evening, a few thousand Israelis gathered in what has come to be known as Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, where they viewed harrowing clips of released hostages revealing horrific details from their time in the Gaza.

Margalit Mozes, 77, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, said in her video that a terrorist took her oxygen concentrator machine, which she needs to sleep, despite her explaining to him in Arabic, “This is my oxygen.”

In her video, Adina Moshe, 72, said that good friends of hers from Kibbutz Nir Oz remain in Gaza, all of them elderly, sick, and without adequate medications.

“When I was there, the food situation there deteriorated. We eventually reached the point of only eating rice,” she said, pleading for Israel to do everything to secure the remaining hostages’ release. Until that happens, she said, “I won’t be able to recover.”

At least 38 people from Nir Oz were murdered on October 7, and 75 abducted.

A video from siblings Maya (21) and Itay (18) Regev showed them saying that every day in captivity “is like hell — intense fear, zero sleep, the lack of knowledge is simply scary.”

They said each day there was “like eternity” and that they missed their family and suffered from hunger and difficult conditions.

The reunion of siblings Maya and Itay Regev, released from Gaza days apart, with a third sibling at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, November 30, 2023, in a handout photo by the hospital. (Courtesy)

The hostages were kidnapped on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 people of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children, and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 360 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Most Popular
read more: