ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Father says family members being kept together while hostage was key to survival

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

Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam are reunited with husband and father Hen Avigdori and their son Omer Avigdori after Sharon and Noam were released by Hamas from captivity in Gaza on Saturday, November 25, 2023. (Courtesy Avigdori family)
Sharon Avigdori and her daughter Noam are reunited with husband and father Hen Avigdori and their son Omer Avigdori after Sharon and Noam were released by Hamas from captivity in Gaza on Saturday, November 25, 2023. (Courtesy Avigdori family)

Hen Avigdori, husband of Sharon and father of Noam, 12, speaks about his wife and daughter who were abducted with Sharon’s extended family, including two other female relatives and two children, ages 8 and 3, from their Kibbutz Be’eri safe room.

All six captives were kept in the same room in Gaza, and the “fact that they were all together was significant for them and their survival,” says Avigdori.

His daughter Noam is like a surrogate older sister to her young cousins.

“That’s what she did for all those days in captivity,” says Avigdori.

For the first two weeks of his wife and daughter’s captivity, Avigdori and his 16-year-old son didn’t know if they were dead or kidnapped.

“The gap between what you know and the reality is enormous and it’s a gaping pain,” he said.

When he finally received word weeks later that they would be released, their release was delayed for hours by Hamas, says Avigdori.

“I thought, what would happen if they make a U-turn. I only prayed that no one took them back to the same room,” says Avigdori.

The moment when he reunited with his wife and daughter was “the happiest moment of my life,” he said. “It was the rebirth of your family, the emotion was overwhelming.”

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