Hanna Katzir, who was released from Gaza on the first day of a seven-day truce last month, is in serious condition after her health deteriorated while she was held hostage in the Strip.
“My mother’s condition is serious. Her condition has deteriorated following the captivity. She had no heart problems when she was kidnapped, but now she has severe heart problems due to harsh conditions and starvation,” her daughter Carmit Palty Katzir told Army Radio on Wednesday morning.
“Today is my mother’s birthday. We prayed to [be able to] celebrate with her,” Palty Katzir added. “She came back both heartbroken and with cardiological problems.”
Katzir, 78, was released on November 24 as part of a Qatar-negotiated temporary ceasefire deal, just days after the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed she had been killed in an IDF airstrike.
While Katzir was in captivity, her family expressed serious concern for her well-being as she uses a walker, takes medication and requires constant medical attention.
She was kidnapped from her Nir Oz home on October 7, and her 79-year-old husband Avraham “Rami,” was murdered, as thousands of Hamas-led terrorists poured into Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages.
On the morning of the attack, Katzir spoke on the phone with her daughter several times and told her that Rami had locked the house and that they were hiding in the safe room.
She stopped answering her phone after 8:44 a.m., and hours later the family learned that Rami was murdered in the safe room and that Hanna was missing.
The couple’s son Elad, who acted as their primary caretaker, was separately kidnapped from his own home in Nir Oz and remains a hostage in Gaza.
Over the course of the seven-day truce between Israel and Hamas, 105 hostages were freed and returned to Israel in exchange for 240 Palestinian security prisoners.
Those released from captivity in Gaza during the ceasefire were 81 Israelis — almost exclusively women and children — 23 Thai nationals and one Filipino. Earlier in the war, four hostages were released and one was rescued, and at least three bodies have been recovered. It is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza, including around 20 women.
Speaking to Channel 12 on Wednesday morning, Palty-Katzir said that the family expected the government to “first of all deal with saving human lives — and only then with the destruction of Hamas.”
She explained that despite the government’s continued insistence that the two goals are being worked toward simultaneously, “in practice, they do not converge on the same timeline and even clash with each other.”
“There must be a truce and a ceasefire in order to rescue the hostages,” she added. “Everyone possible must be rescued and returned, without categories.”
In an additional appeal for the return of all the remaining hostages, Katzir’s family said: “Our mother is proof that every day in Gaza is a life-threatening situation. The captives’ time is running out. We know what condition they were in when they were abducted, but it’s impossible to know what condition they will return in. The conditions in captivity are not conditions in which humans should live.”