ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Older brother, father, remain captive inside Strip

Freed hostage Bilal Ziyadne: Hamas kidnapped us even though they knew we’re Arab

Bilal, freed with sister Aisha during truce, struggles to detail experiences; says family was kept together in Gaza, given ‘normal food,’ thought they were the only hostages

Bilal Ziyadne, who was held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza for 50 days, December 10, 2023. (Channel 13 screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Bilal Ziyadne, who was held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza for 50 days, December 10, 2023. (Channel 13 screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Bilal Ziyadne, 18, who was released in late November after more than 50 days in Hamas captivity, said terrorists kidnapped him and his family members even though they knew they were Arabs, as he struggled to describe his experiences in an interview Sunday.

“I told them we were Arabs. They said to us, even though we’re Arabs, they’re kidnapping us,” he recounted to Channel 13 news about October 7, when he, his sister, older brother Hamza, and father Youssef were kidnapped.

He and his sister, Aisha, were the only ones from their Bedouin family from Rahat who have been released so far.

He said the four of them were kept together, and they were brought enough food to not be hungry, “normal food. Bread, beans, tomatoes, falafel, things like that.”

Asked what he spoke about with his family, Bilal said: “I don’t remember. We were scared.”

He said for most of the time he did not know there were other hostages outside of the four members of his family and was unaware of the seriousness of the situation. “We didn’t think the war would take that long. It felt like such a long time, we prayed to be freed,” he said.

A composite image of the four members of the Bedouin Ziyadne family – a father and three children – from near Rahat, in southern Israel, who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and taken to Gaza as hostages. From top left, clockwise: Aisha (17), Youssef (53), Bilal (18), and Hamza (23) (courtesy)

Bilal said that all four of them were provided with “a mattress, pillow, blanket,” unlike many of the other freed hostages who said they slept on the bare ground and were given barely enough food to survive.

The terrorists also gave them a Quran, he said.

The released teen said he felt afraid of the Israeli airstrikes he would hear, but not of Hamas: “I’m scared for those who are still there… I feel and I know what they’re going through.”

Aisha Ziyadne, 17, released by Hamas on November 30, 2023, is reunited with relatives at Soroka Medical Center. (Courtesy: Soroka)

The four were kidnapped on October 7 while working in Kibbutz Holit.

The family lives in Rahat, in the Ziyadne neighborhood, named for their extensive family clan.

Bilal Ziyadne, released by Hamas on November 30, 2023, is reunited with relatives at Soroka Medical Center. (Courtesy: Soroka)

Hamas-led terrorists murdered at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid acts of horrific brutality and kidnapped some 240 people to Gaza when they rampaged through southern communities. Overall, six Bedouins were taken hostage by Hamas, local sources say, and 21 were killed during the October 7 onslaught and in rocket fire from Gaza in the following days.

One relative, Abdul Ziyadne, 29, was killed on October 7 as he spent the weekend camping on Zikim beach, two miles from Gaza. He was shot so many times that his corpse looked like it had been “smothered” in bullets, a relative told The Guardian.

Another family member, Yosef Ziyadne, a 48-year-old minibus driver, was hired to drive seven young women from the Supernova music festival that afternoon, The Guardian reported.

As he received panicked texts and calls about the unfolding massacre, he raced to the scene, packed 31 people into his 14-seater van, and sped away through fields, avoiding Hamas gunfire, while other festival-goers followed him in their own cars to safety.

It is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza, although in recent days the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 18 of them, due to new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One hundred and five civilian hostages were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza during a weeklong truce in late November: 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals and one Filipino. In exchange, Israel released 240 Palestinian security prisoners, all women and minors. Earlier, four hostages were released, one hostage was rescued, and two bodies were recovered.

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