In harrowing detail, an 85-year-old Israeli grandmother described her 17-day ordeal as a hostage, offering for the first time a captive’s account of the armed Palestinian group Hamas’s subterranean garrison beneath Gaza, the conditions in which the group’s hostages are being held and the operatives deployed to tend to them.
The woman, Yocheved Lifshitz, a peace activist from Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border, was released on Tuesday along with another woman, Nurit Cooper, 79, after negotiations between Israel and Hamas were facilitated by Egypt and Qatar. Only two other hostages out of at least 222 have been released since the Hamas rampage on Oct. 7 left over 1,400 people dead in Israel.
“I went through hell,” Ms. Lifshitz told reporters at a Tel Aviv hospital on Tuesday, one day after her release. Speaking from a wheelchair, she delivered her remarks in a faltering voice, still visibly tired.
Her account of Hamas’s tunnel network, which she likened to “a spider web,” offered a glimpse of the difficulties facing Israel as it weighs when and how to launch a ground invasion of Gaza. Hamas, which oversees the territory and is designated a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, has dug an enormous warren of tunnels and underground chambers, in which it is believed to be hiding weapons, fighters and some hostages.
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