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Israel-Gaza war: ‘I couldn’t believe it was possible to kidnap an 85-year-old woman’

  • Published
    16 hours ago

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Image source, Courtesy of Elinor Shahar

It has been nearly a month since Adva Ada’s 85-year-old grandmother was kidnapped by Hamas and hustled across the border into Gaza on a golf cart.

She was one of more than 200 people taken from Israel on 7 October, when Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented assault on Israel from the Gaza Strip.

As the Israeli military continues to pound the territory with air strikes and encircles Gaza City, Adva says she is holding on to hope that the Israeli military is focused on rescuing the hostages.

“If they are doing a ground invasion in Gaza, then they are doing it because this can help bring the hostages back,” she says over the phone from Israel.


“If I don’t believe it, I can’t have hope. And if I can’t have hope, I have no reason to wake up in the morning. I need to believe she will be back.”

Adva had planned to visit her grandmother, Yafa, at the Kibbutz Nir Oz with her family on 7 October to mark the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

But at 06:30 that morning, her grandmother wrote in the family chat that she was hiding from rocket fire in her shelter.

“Other members of my family [at the kibbutz] told me that the terrorists were going from house to house. They were burning the houses, shooting and kidnapping people,” Adva says.

After a few hours, she lost contact with her grandmother. But that evening, she was stunned to see a video that Hamas had posted online of Yafa.

“She was on a golf cart with four terrorists around her. I was terrified. I couldn’t believe it was even possible to kidnap an 85-year-old woman from her bed. It is unhuman behaviour, beyond possible.”

Adva says that her grandmother’s health is a huge concern.

“She is ill, she has heart failure, kidney problems, blood pressure. She needs a lot of medication for her system to function, to release the pain she’s in. She almost can’t walk or sit straight.”

“Every hour that’s passing is an hour I don’t know if she made it.”

Yafa Adva was one of the founding members of Kibbutz Nir Oz and had lived there for 60 years. She worked as a dental assistant, in the library and looked after the children.

Yafa Advar with her great-grandchildren

Image source, Courtesy of Elinor Shahar

A mother of three, a grandmother of eight and a great-grandmother seven times over, Yafa is not the only member of the Adar family who was caught up in the deadly Hamas attacks.

Her grandson Tamir – Adva’s cousin – is missing. He left his wife and two children in the shelter of their family home in Nir Oz and went to protect his community as soon as he heard that Hamas gunmen were in the kibbutz.

At 08:00 he called his wife. “He didn’t think that they were going to make it,” Adva tells me. “He told her not to open the door to anyone and he said his goodbye.”

Tamir has not been heard from since. The family don’t know if he was taken to Gaza, murdered or injured.

Adva also has a grandfather, an aunt and another cousin, who survived the attacks.

Her grandfather, Yoram, “aged 50 years in a day. When the terrorists couldn’t kidnap him, they burnt his house. He inhaled a lot of smoke, he was in a critical condition in the hospital for a few days, but now he is doing better,” Adva says.

“He is scared of everything. Scared is not an emotion I would have ever used to describe him in the past… He might survive this,” she says, “but mentally I don’t know for how long.”

Adva’s aunt Vered had to run for her life after gunmen got into her house, filled it with cooking gas and set it on fire.

“She’s OK physically, but they are traumatised in a very severe way,” Adva says.

“How will they ever feel safe if you can’t feel safe in your house? If you don’t know you can go to bed and feel safe in your bed. I don’t know how you recover from something like this.”

Adva says that her family have nothing to go back to. Her aunt left in her pyjamas and her glasses.

“Everything was destroyed and what wasn’t destroyed was stolen… And it’s so sad, because it was heaven in that kibbutz. It became hell in minutes.”


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