Israelis celebrate return of hostage Yaffa Adar, 85, whose stoicism ’embodies Zionism’

Grandmother of eight became an icon of resilience after apparently showing unbreakable resolve as she was kidnapped in mobility scooter on October 7

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Yaffa Adar. (Courtesy)
Yaffa Adar. (Courtesy)

As Israelis hailed the Friday release of 13 hostages out of the some 240 whom Hamas terrorists are believed to hold, many celebrated especially the return of one unlikely hero: an 85-year-old grandmother named Yafa Adar.

Adar, whose three children gave her eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, emerged as an icon of dignity and quiet defiance after footage emerged of her keeping a stiff upper lip even as ecstatic terrorists, who had just perpetrated a massacre in her Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, drove her off into captivity in a mobility scooter, and later a car inside Gaza.

Her stoic behavior was so striking that many friends of her family gently inquired whether she was suffering from dementia, Adar’s granddaughter, Adva, told The Times of Israel the day after her grandmother’s abduction.

“She’s putting on a brave face, taking charge of the situation and showing her captors a glimpse of the unbreakable resolve we all know her to have,” Adar told The Times of Israel at the time.

Tamir Adar, another grandchild of the matriarch, is presumed to be held hostage in Gaza. The 38-year-old is thought to have been taken captive while defending Nir Oz.

Author Iris Boker wrote (Hebrew) on X what was on the minds of many when news came out that Adar had been released: “She is the embodiment of Zionism and Israeli resilience and she will not let any ‘Hamasnik’ see her break. I’m so happy that she has returned.”

Palestinian terrorists kidnap an Israeli civilian, center, later identified as 85-year-old Yafa Adar, into the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023 (AP Photo/ Hatem Ali)

Yosef Yisrael, a reporter for Channel 13 news, saw Adar’s release not only as a relief but a triumph.

He posted a picture of her in the mobility scooter when she was surrounded by seven men, two of them armed with an assault rifle.

“Yafa Adar is home. The sub-humans around her are already lying deep underground, their house has probably been turned into rubble by the army of the State of Israel. That’s Jewish, Israeli power,” Yisrael wrote.

Itan Dahan, whose aunt, Bracha, for hours resisted attempts by terrorists to break into her bomb shelter in Kibbutz Nirim, marveled at the resilience of Adar, whose family said required medication and had thought her likely to die in captivity.

Yaffa Adar grins stoically as Hamas terrorists abduct her to Gaza from her home in Nir Oz, Israel on October 7, 2023. (Screenshot from a video X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

“Yaffa Adar is a hero of Israel. To be kept for 50 days in the rathole of these human monsters and then to make it back alive is an incredible feat. So much strength,” Dahan wrote.

Gal Moshe, a soccer analyst, said that joy over Adar’s return was connected not only to her inspiring conduct when she was abducted, but to the pain that images of her capture caused many Israelis.

“An image that forever will be remembered in the dark pages of every Israeli’s memory,” Moshe wrote about the image of the terrorists with Adar in her scooter. “And what great happiness over the fact that we are fortunate enough to see Yaffa Adar return.”

The hostages released by Hamas in an ambulance en route to Israel on November 24, 2023. (Screen capture/Youm7)

Adar was released as part of an exchange between Israel and Hamas, who agreed to return 50 Israeli hostages over the course of a 4-day lull in fighting that went into effect Friday. Israel agreed to release 150 Palestinian prisoners in return. The exchanges are to be conducted in several stages.

The assault on Nir Oz, where terrorists murdered more than 100 people, was part of a brutal cross-border raid by 3,000 terrorists who killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians.

Israel launched a massive military operation in Gaza that it said was aimed at toppling the terrorist group’s regime. Officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza have said that more than 14,000 people have been killed. That figure cannot be independently verified and is believed to include both Palestinian terrorists and civilians, as well as those Palestinian civilians killed by Palestinian rockets and terrorists.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have said they will resume the military operation after the end of the temporary truce, and have vowed that all the hostages will be returned home.

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