ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 145

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WATCH: Freed hostage Mia Leimberg, 17, says having her dog helped her endure time in Gaza

Mia Leimberg, 17, seen in footage from inside the Gaza Strip, with her dog Bella, as she is transferred to the Red Cross as part of a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, October 28, 2023. (November 28, 2023)
Mia Leimberg, 17, seen in footage from inside the Gaza Strip, with her dog Bella, as she is transferred to the Red Cross as part of a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, October 28, 2023. (November 28, 2023)

Released Gaza hostage Mia Leimberg, 17, talks for the first time about her time in captivity in a new video posted online.

“It was quite the journey for both of us,” she says in English, speaking about herself and her beloved dog, Bella, who was taken with her to Gaza — after the Hamas captors initially weren’t aware Mia had been holding her, wrapped in blanket — and was released with her on November 28.

Mia says it was tough to be taken to Gaza while holding “an extra four kilos,” but says she was lucky that the Shih Tzu, unlike most little dogs she knows, is a quiet dog.

“We gave her our leftovers so she’ll eat, and she tried to walk around the place where we were kept and we had to make sure she doesn’t start exploring too much, but overall, she was a huge help to me,” Leimberg says. “She kept me busy, she was a moral support — even though she didn’t want to be.”

She says that physically she feels fine, and that that while she’s not mentally traumatized and doesn’t have trouble sleeping, she went through a “hard experience” and it will take “quite the while to sink in.”

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