Israeli officials are reportedly unhappy with an interview given by an elderly former captive of Hamas in Gaza because she had not been well prepared for the statement.
In a press meeting on Tuesday, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz, an Israeli captive released from Gaza on Monday evening, said she was beaten on 7 October, the day Palestinian fighters stormed southern Israel, but later treated "gently".
Sources told Israel's state-owned Kan News that the interview was a "mistake", adding that a "preliminary meeting" may not have been held with Lifshitz prior to her press statement and that if one had been held, not "all questions" to do with the preparation were asked.
Lifshitz is one of four Israelis who have been released after Hamas-led Palestinian fighters stormed Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip in an attack that killed around 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians. Israel believes 220 captives are being held in Gaza.
The former Israeli hostage was one of the oldest held by Hamas in Gaza, and spent more than two weeks in captivity. She was released alongside another captive, 79-year-old Nurit Yitzhak.
Lifshitz told reporters: "I've been through hell, I never thought that I would reach such a state. They [Palestinian fighters] went berserk in our kibbutz [and] put me on a motorcycle."
She went on to describe how children and the elderly were among those taken, calling the scenes "extremely painful". Lifshitz added that she was hit by a stick en route to Gaza and made to walk several kilometers after reaching the area.
According to the former hostage, a medic and later a doctor visited her while she was held by Hamas, to check on her condition. "They took care of every detail," she said.
Lifshitz said her captors "took care" of her needs. "They ensured that they eat the same food as we eat, white cheese and cucumbers," she added.
Retelling her mother's story, Lifshitz' daughter Sharone said: "When she first arrived, they [fighters] told them that they are Muslims and they won't hurt them." When Lifshitz was asked why she shook hands with the Hamas fighter before her release, she replied: "They were gentle with us, our needs were supplied."
🚨 Hamas freed two Israeli women who were among the more than 200 hostages taken during its Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel while sources said the U.S. had advised Israel to hold off on a ground assault in the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/Lul1Y9yR34— OSINT Updates (@OsintUpdates) October 24, 2023
During the press statement, Lifshitz also condemned the Israeli army's lack of preparedness for the attack on 7 October, saying that "two billion" shekels had been spent on security systems that did not work.
She also attacked the government for its failures in the lead-up to the attack. "We were the government's scapegoat, we were abandoned. We went through hell," she said.
Family members had earlier told media outlets that the grandmother had previously worked to get medical aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Oded Lifshitz, Yocheved's husband, is still missing and presumed to be held by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, although his whereabouts or condition are not known.
Israel says that Hamas holds 220 of its citizens as prisoners, some of whom hold citizenship of different countries, but that number may in fact be higher, as dozens of people are still missing.
Hamas says 22 captives have been killed in Israel's bombardment of Gaza, which has killed at least 5,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are civilians.
In an interview with Sky News broadcast on Tuesday, senior Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said the group would release all of its hostages in exchange for an end to the bombardment of Gaza.