Woman who stalled kidnappers returns to scene of 15-hour terror, with UK foreign secretary

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

Screen capture from video of Rachel Edery describing how she surreptitiously indicated to police how many terrorists were holding her captive in her home in Ofakim, October 8, 2023. (Channel 13. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of Rachel Edery describing how she surreptitiously indicated to police how many terrorists were holding her captive in her home in Ofakim, October 8, 2023. (Channel 13. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Rachel and David Edery, a couple from Ofakim held hostage for 15 hours in their home, return there for the first time since police rescued them in what has become one of the few points of light to emerge out of Israel since Saturday’s massacres.

“There’s nothing here for me to do, just death and devastation,” Rachel Edery tells The Times of Israel outside the bullet-riddled semi-detached duplex. “I came to say thank you to God for saving our lives, and to our remarkable security forces.”

The Ederys host James Cleverly, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, in what’s left of their home. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets Cleverly there along with Ofakim Mayor Yitzhak Danino and about 30 reporters, mostly from the foreign press.

Cohen thanks the United Kingdom for its friendship with Israel and promises that Israel will triumph over Hamas. Cleverly says he came to Ofakim “because it’s important to show solidarity right now.”

The couple, who are staying with one of their sons as they coordinate the renovation of their home with insurance agencies and the Defense Ministry, stay mostly in the yard, only peering into the messy interior, which reeks of putrid blood from the five terrorists killed as police moved in to rescue the couple.

Upstairs, flies swarm around puddles of caked blood. The walls are blackened from at least one grenade that went off during the extraction, which ended without any injuries to Israelis. Before the extraction, the terrorists killed at least two police officers outside the Ederys’ home.

In the upstairs seating area, a plate of dried rice and beef stew remains half eaten on a coffee table. Rachel Edery served the five terrorists who entered her home food, sang with them and calmed them down, she later recounted in testimonies that have made her into a local hero. Her calm poise and good humor have won her plaudits around the world.

“The reverse psychology she employed is just amazing, she’s an inspiration,” one local woman, 69-year-old Batsheva Dahan, tells The Times of Israel.

“I was playing for everything, for my whole life. I just wanted to stall them long enough to be alive when the rescue forces break in. But it’s still unbelievable I’m alive,” Edry tells The Times of Israel at her home.

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