Eitan Yahalomi, 12, was released on November 27 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar and the United States between Hamas and Israel. Father Ohad remains presumed captive in Gaza. This is the story of their capture:
During a press conference for families of Hamas captives, Batsheva Yahalomi recounted the family’s harrowing hours in their home on Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, 2023, before her husband Ohad and son Eitan went missing.
“The kibbutzim, we went through a pogrom,” said Yahalomi. “We dreamed of peace with Gaza and there were entire families, babies killed.”
The family of five first hunkered down in their sealed room against the early morning rocket attacks. Eitan, described as a very sensitive child, was very frightened by the rockets and even fell asleep at one point during the morning in the safe room.
As it became clear that Hamas terrorists had entered the kibbutz, Ohad decided to sit outside the sealed room door with a handgun, as the door handle of the room wasn’t locking properly.
When the Hamas gunmen entered the house, Ohad engaged in a gun battle and was shot. The gunmen then hurried Yahalomi and the three children out of the house and onto mopeds, along with a foreign worker from the kibbutz.
Yahalomi, 10-year-old Yael and almost two-year-old toddler sat on one moped with a terrorist, while 12-year-old Eitan and the foreign worker sat on the other moped with another gunman.
The terrorists headed toward Gaza and soon saw two IDF tanks appear up ahead, said Yahalomi. The two mopeds veered away from one another and Yahalomi lost track of Eitan on the other moped.
At some point, Yahalomi and her two daughters were able to run away, hiding for a short period. Two unarmed terrorists found them and tried to convince them to come into Gaza, but didn’t violently attack Yahalomi and her children.
“We got lucky with our story, we got the ‘soft’ terrorists,” she said.
Yahalomi eventually made it back toward the northern end of the kibbutz, which was less damaged than the other section.
“We were sure that Ohad would be there, but he wasn’t,” she said.
Yahalomi said she’s had no word about her husband or 12-year-old since October 7.
Eitan, known as Tantan or Touni by his family, is a devoted fan of the Manchester City football team and loves soccer.
He doesn’t like to be far from his parents, said his mother during a Channel 13 interview, something his mother thinks about frequently during his days in captivity.