In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, families of several Israeli hostages held by Hamas described the hardships they are enduring and shared heartfelt pleas for the safe return of their loved ones, while demanding “justice” and calling on the world to recognize Hamas for the terrorist organization that it is.
The families of the hostages, several who are American citizens, were attending the lighting of one of the tallest menorahs in the world in honor of the Hannuka festival last week.
At the candle lighting ceremony, which was hosted by the Chabad of Roslyn in Long Island, the family members described the psychological and emotional distress they continue to endure.
Rabbi Aaron Konikov, the center’s director who organized the event, spoke of the “essence” of the Jewish holiday lying in “the power of a small light to banish vast darkness,” as he explained its deeper significance:
By lighting the Hanukkah menorah and making its glow visible to all, we broadcast a message of resilience and hope. We choose to do this during the night’s darkest hours as a symbol of defiance against antisemitism. If we shrink away in fear, the shadows grow only deeper. But in proudly celebrating our Jewish heritage, we become beacons that scatter the darkness.
Amit Esther Buskila
Elin, the mother of Amit Esher Buskila, a 28-year-old fashion stylist who was kidnapped from the Nova dance festival in Israel on October 7, told Breitbart News that the music festival her daughter attended “represented peace and love, but unfortunately there was no love or peace there” when Hamas attacked.
“No, no, no!!! I love you”
These are Amit Esther Buskila’s (28) last words when she was on the phone with her uncle on the morning of the party, before connection was cut off.
On Saturday October 7th, when the terrorists rushed in the party area and started shooting all over,… pic.twitter.com/QGZ2jJ3yaF
— Bring Them Home Now (@bringhomenow) November 7, 2023
Amit was reported to have been hiding behind cars, when she heard terrorists approaching.
Describing the last phone call with Amit, Elin said her daughter shared she was wounded.
“We heard her say to the Hamas terrorists, ‘no, no, no,’ and then they shot her in the hand and she cried, ‘I’m wounded, I’m wounded,’ and that she loves us, and that was it.”
“Since then, we haven’t heard a thing. We don’t know what is going on,” she added. “We are praying that we will see her and hug her again very soon.”
Describing the difficulty of the circumstances, Elin said, “We don’t sleep, we don’t eat. We don’t drink. We don’t know what to do.”
She also lamented how the International Red Cross has yet to offer any assistance, having informed others the humanitarian aid organization lacks any access to the hostages.
She expressed her deep love for her daughter and her hope that she’s managing.
“I hope she’s eating and drinking and being well taken care of, and we will see each other very soon,” she said. “I hope wherever she is — I don’t want to say — I’m shaking. I talk about her and I’m shaking.”
To the world, Elin explained that “we are on the right side.”
“We are good people. We are not animals, we are not monsters. We are just people who want to live. We just want to live happily and smile every day. That’s all. We don’t want to do bad to anyone,” she said.
In a message to those wishing to help, she called on people to show love and demand justice.
“We want justice for all the Jewish people,” she said.
“Don’t be afraid of anybody,” she added, noting “We are the Jewish people, and Am Yisrael Chai (The People of Israel Lives On).”
Miri, the mother of Yosef-Haim Ochana, a 23-year-old aspiring coach who is being held hostage in Gaza, told Breitbart News of what occurred on what Israelis refer to as the “Black Sabbath.”
Yosef-Haim Ochana (23) enjoyed the Nova Music Festival together with his friend. On the morning of Saturday October 7th, when the Hamas terrorists started the merciless attack on the festival area, Yosef-Haim and his friend assisted the injured and transferred them to the… pic.twitter.com/9mt3yT2bas
— Bring Them Home Now (@bringhomenow) November 8, 2023
“Early in the morning, I received a call and was told that the terrorists came to the festival Nova where my son was. I called my son’s phone but he did not answer. I called his friend who was with him at the festival and he told me that he had been with my son when the shooting started. They helped the injured and then when the terrorists started firing missiles, they hid under a car,” she said.
“The terrorists saw him, he got up and raised his hands, and that’s the last time he saw him,” she added.
Miri explained how the Israeli Government appointed two army case officers to provide updates and information about her son.
“They came to my house and told me he was a hostage,” she said. “They gave proof that I saw.”
She also shared how difficult the situation is for her.
“It’s been over two months. I’m a single mother and I have four kids,” she said. “Yosef-Haim is the oldest and he has a brother, 21, and sister, 13. One brother died from cancer.”
Miri described her son as a “kind” soul who “loves his friends, and they love him.”
“He loves to help people with energy and happiness. Whenever I needed help, he would always be there to help me with all his heart. And I remember there was a time I needed money and he gave it to me in an envelope on which he wrote: ‘Mom never stop smiling,’” she said.
“I feel he is alive and thinking about me,” she added. “I miss him. I miss him very, very much.”
Gila Glacier, the aunt of freed child hostage Emily Hand, a dual Irish-Israeli citizen who had turned nine years old in captivity, described the atrocities of October 7 when “one thousand terrorists came to Kibbutz Be’eri and slaughtered and cut the heads off innocent civilians and did horrible things to the Israelis there — kidnapped people, burnt houses to get the people out; and when they came out they shot them.”
“They kidnapped babies from other Kibbutzim as well — babies, elderly people, kids, wives, moms, grandparents, and just did horrible things that are even worse than the Holocaust in some ways,” she said.
After 50 days in captivity, 9-year-old Emily Hand was released to her family.
She could only speak in whispers after being conditioned by Hamas to not make any noise.
Babies, children, entire families – these are the faces of Hamas’ victims.
This army of terror is a threat to… pic.twitter.com/UttpljZ4rd
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) December 14, 2023
Glacier described the October 7 massacre in Israel as “almost like a movie.”
“It doesn’t even make sense to any normal brain what happened; the horror of what happened is unbelievable,” she said.
She also noted the experiences of Israel’s Zaka rescue service that assists in handling the dead in the wake of terror attacks and natural disasters, in the wake of the massacre.
“All their life, these people, this is their job, they only deal with dead bodies. And what they saw on that day and during the weeks or month following [October 7] — because it took time to even identify the bodies [of those brutally murdered that day], because they burned them alive, they cut their heads, they forced kids to watch their parents being murdered in front of them and vice versa; and a pregnant woman, they cut up her belly — were just such horrible, horrible things that any normal brain can’t even digest.”
Emily was in the midst of a sleepover party when Hamas terrorists arrived at the house she was staying at and kidnapped her and her friend “right from their bed in their pajamas,” Glacier shared.
Though she was held captive in a “horrible condition of malnutrition,” Glacier added, fortunately she was held together with her friend and friend’s mother.
Hand, whose mother was murdered on October 7, was released last month by Hamas along with 12 other Israeli hostages in exchange for 39 convicted female and juvenile Palestinian terrorists, plus additional fuel and supplies for the Gaza Strip.
Her father had initially been told that she had died in the October 7 attack; he said it was better that she had died than have to endure torture by Hamas.
When it was reported that she was still alive, he prayed for her release. A photo of the reunion of father and daughter showed her looking extremely pale but relieved, holding a teddy bear that had been given to her.
Clutching a teddy bear, Irish nine-year-old Emily Hand was reunited with her devoted father today after being held by Hamas for 50 days pic.twitter.com/H7Qxwuioy0
— News News News (@NewsNew97351204) November 26, 2023
Glacier noted that Emily “will need some treatment after being 50 days with Hamas terrorists.”
She also insisted that “everybody needs to know that Hamas is like ISIS,” in contrast to Israelis who seek peace.
“It’s a terrorist group,” she said. “They don’t fight for freedom for anything.”
“They say ‘from the river to the sea,’ which means they want to destroy Israel and kill the Israeli people,” she added. “So this is not a group that anybody should support. Everybody should support Israel and see what’s going on. All we want is peace — to live in peace.”
She pointed to the fact that residents of the towns that were attacked on October 7 “wished for peace and did everything to help Palestinians.”
“In Gaza, a monthly salary is about $100, but when Israel issued a working permit for these same people they would work in Israel and make 10 times more or 100 times more, and from that amount they were able to support their families in Gaza.”
Several notable Israeli peace activists who aided Gazans were cruelly murdered, like others, on October 7, with no Palestinian outcry.
Wanted to share my reflections with you from the home of my friend, Vivian Silver, in Kibbutz Be’eri after the slaughter by Hamas.
Vivian was an angel of peace who worked hard for peace with and for Palestinians.
Her memory will be a blessing and inspiration for us all. pic.twitter.com/CASNt6fS0u
— Deborah Lyons (@DeborahLyonsSE) December 5, 2023
Glacier also warned that Hamas has plans beyond Israel and “will not stop,” noting the terror groups “cells in Europe” and their ability to “come to the US.”
“Just as we are seeing with the Houthi terror group in Yemen [attacking Israel and others in the region] whose flag reads: ‘God Is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam’ — they’re against both the US and Israel; it doesn’t stop just in Israel.”
This is the Houthi slogan and flag translated in English. Share this as the liberal media do not want you to know that. pic.twitter.com/BecCMEMIU2
— Mashhour | مشهور (@MashhourII) August 30, 2018
“People should be aware of these dangerous terror groups when seeing what’s going on in Israel because the same groups hate America,” she added. “They should help as much as they can because it’s a global fight.”
Highlighting the atrocities of the October 7 massacre, Emily’s aunt insisted that “we really have to stop this evil — it’s not just an Israel problem, it’s a world problem.”
To families with loved ones still held hostage in Gaza, Glacier offered words of hope and encouragement.
“Keep praying and keep believing that they will come back home,” she said. “Even have the scene in your mind of what it will be like when you will be reunited. Think about the moment that you can, again, hold them and hug them — and really see them coming home.”
In addition, she called for more publicity, and for those affected to “tell your story to everybody — and with God’s help, they will come home.”
The matter comes as 129 hostages are believed to still be in Gaza, some deceased, following the release of 105 civilians by Hamas during a late November truce.
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Israel Defense Forces
The IDF also recovered several bodies and confirmed the deaths of 20 hostages, based on recent intelligence and on-the-ground findings in Gaza.
The hostages were kidnapped during Hamas’s massacre on October 7 — the deadliest against Jewish people since the Nazi Holocaust — which saw the torture, rape, execution, immolation, mutilation, and abduction of hundreds of innocent civilians.
Israel has since set out to dismantle the terrorist group in Gaza, in a war it regards as the fight for the Jewish state’s very existence.