Israeli prisoner released by Hamas praised Palestinian

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TEL AVIV: An elderly Israeli prisoner who was released by Hamas overnight said Hamas treated gently during her two-week held in the Palestinian enclave.

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, one of two elderly Israeli women released on Monday night with 79-year-old Nurit Cooper on what Hamas said was “compelling humanitarian” grounds following mediation by Qatar and Egypt.

She told media while seated in a wheelchair, outside the Tel Aviv hospital on Tuesday that doctor visited her and made sure she and other prisoners received the same sort of medicines they had been taking in Israel.

Video of her release on Monday showed her turning around to shake the hand of a masked man. Asked why she had done that, she replied: “They treated us gently and met all our needs.” Speaking to Reuters on Monday, her grandson said Lifshitz was a peace activist who used to help sick Palestinians in Gaza receive medical treatment in Israel, meeting them at the main border crossing and driving them to hospitals.

“When I was on the bike, my legs were on one side and the rest of my body on the other side. The young men hit me on the way. They didn’t break my ribs but it was painful and I had difficulty breathing”, she recounted how the Hamas raided her kibbutz home, then threw her over the back of a motorbike.

Inside Gaza, a group of prisoners were led into what Lifshitz called a “spider’s web” of damp tunnels, built by Hamas beneath the narrow coastal territory, and eventually reached a large hall.

“When we got there, first of all they told us that they believed in the Quran and that they would not harm us,” she recounted.

A group of five people from her kibbutz were held together, each with an individual guard who stayed with them 24 hours a day, she told media. “They took good care of the wounded,” Lifshitz said.

Lifshitz was critical on Tuesday of the Israeli military for failing to protect southern communities, saying the army had not taken the threat of raid seriously.

“We were left to fend for ourselves,” she said. She added that a costly security fence that was meant to keep safe us but “didn’t help at all”.

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