'This is killing us. Every minute is like an hour'

UK’s Daily Mail highlights plight of 4 youngest female captives still held by Hamas

Families of Liri Albag, 18, and 19-year-olds Karina Ariev, Daniela Gilboa and Agam Berger, speak about their fears 3 months in, including that women may have been raped, lost limbs

An inside page from the Daily Mail, January 8, 2024.
An inside page from the Daily Mail, January 8, 2024.

The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper on Monday featured an interview with the families of four Israeli teenagers held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as they appealed to parents around the world to help free their children

Liri Albag, 18, from Moshav Yarhiv; Karina Ariev, 19, from Jerusalem; Daniella Gilboa, 19, from Petah Tikva; and Agam Berger, 19, from Holon, were shown in a Hamas propaganda video filmed just hours after they were abducted on October 7.

In that video, the four were shown lined up against a wall, their hands tied behind them. Some looked beaten, and caked with dried blood, including on their faces. A screenshot from the video of each woman was shown next to a pre-captivity photo of her.

The Daily Mail report carried the headline “The faces of the girls STILL being held by Hamas as their families make a desperate plea for their release three months after they were captured.” It was also published on the newspaper’s website, Mail Online, along with a video of the families speaking about the captives.

The four are believed to be the youngest female hostages still being held by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

Screen capture from video of families of kidnapped Israelis speaking to the Daily Mail, January 7, 2024. (Daily Mail. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

“Imagine if it was your daughter, your little girl in their hands,” said Orly, whose daughter is Daniela Gilboa, a pianist who wrote songs and dreamed of becoming a musician. “What would you imagine?”

On October 7, thousands of Hamas terrorists burst through the border with the Gaza Strip and into Israel in an attack that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. As the terrorists rampaged murderously through southern areas, they slaughtered those they found, including over 360 people butchered at an outdoor music festival. The attackers raped women and massacre victims were tortured or mutilated. At least 240 people were abducted and taken as hostages in Gaza, and most of the women and children have since been released in a temporary ceasefire deal.

“We understood exactly what they did on October 7,” Orly said. “If they are capable of this, what have they been doing for 90 days? I don’t want to imagine what is going on.”

There are fears that some female captives have been raped at gunpoint or had limbs amputated, the relatives said.

“We heard about the sexual abuses,” said Shlomi Berger, Agam’s father. “As a father, I can’t imagine these things. The family is torn apart.”

Liri Albag, who was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

He said the situation has had a deep impact, with the family “torn apart, not functional.” Agam’s younger siblings do not want to go to school, and his wife does not want to go to work. He said he is also unable to work under the circumstances.

Karina’s younger sister, Sasha, her only sibling, told the Mail: “It’s misery, it’s helpless[ness]. My mother’s in a terrible situation, she doesn’t know what to do.”

Karina Ariev, who was taken captive early in the morning of October 7, 2023, by Hamas terrorists. (Courtesy)

She described Karina as “very kind, very humble, and an innocent, pure creature. I can’t stop thinking about her and I will do anything to get her back.”

Liri’s father, Eli, said: “This is killing us. Every minute is like an hour.”

“Think for one day that you don’t have a connection with your daughter and you know they are in the hands of bad people,” he said. “Then tell me what you would say after 90 days.”

Shira Albag recalled that her daughter, Liri, had planned to travel the world. She said the parents of the four hostage girls try to offer each other comfort.

“We cry together a lot. We speak a lot, we understand each other,” she said. “Nobody [else] can understand what we are feeling.”

“It is good for us to be together in this situation,” Shira said.

Daniella Gilboa, who was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

The families have received some information about their daughters from other hostages who were freed. Chen Goldstein-Almog, freed on November 26 with her three children, reported seeing the four teenagers in a Gaza apartment during her captivity.

“Some of them are close in age to my daughters and I hugged them so hard,” she told the Mail.

But Goldstein-Almog also brought back harrowing details of the circumstances of hostages.

“Some of the girls were badly wounded and haven’t been getting proper medical care,” she said of hostages she saw. “Gunshot wounds, even lost limbs. They said they can cope with the disability but not with the manner they were constantly violated.”

“They are strong and haven’t lost hope,” she said. “But they were on the edge five weeks ago when we separated from them. They need to be released. They cannot be there for one more day.”

Agam Berger, who was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

It is believed that 132 hostages seized on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released before that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered.

The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed the deaths of 25 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. The youngest hostages believed held are Kfir Bibas, who was nine months old when abducted, and his brother Ariel Bibas, 4. They were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz along with their parents Yarden and Shiri.

In response to the October 7 assault, Israel launched a military campaign to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza, and release the hostages.

The families told the Mail of their yearning to see their loved ones again.

Daniella’s mother, Orly, said she thinks back to the time when her daughter would play the piano in their home and sing along together with her sister.

“I wish it would be [like this] today,” she said.

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