Home Culture Israel Welcomes Returning Hostages, Awaits More Releases


Israel Welcomes Returning Hostages, Awaits More Releases

by Mackenzie Landi

Some of the women and children held hostage by Hamas begin returning to Israel, where they are reunited with their families.

From left, nine-year-old Ehud Munder, nine-year-old Emily Hand and six-year-old Emilia Aloni were released from Hamas captivity. Photos courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital and IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

In the last few days, Israel collectively held its breath as the first hostages to be returned from Hamas captivity began making their way back home.

Yoni Asher is reunited with his wife, Doron, and daughters Raz and Aviv, on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Yoni Asher is reunited with his wife, Doron, and daughters Raz and Aviv, on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Raz, 4.5, and Aviv, 2.5, return home from the Gaza Strip with their mother Doron. They reunited with their father and husband, Yoni, at an Israeli hospital, on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Raz, 4.5, and Aviv, 2.5, return home from the Gaza Strip with their mother Doron. They reunited with their father and husband, Yoni, at an Israeli hospital, on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital

As photos and videos of children held in captivity for 50 days being reunited with their parents began making rounds, a huge sigh of relief could be heard around the country.

Ehud Munder, 9, was released from captivity with his mother and grandmother. They were reunited with his father and brother after 50 days apart on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Ohad Munder, 9, was released from captivity with his mother and grandmother. They were reunited with his father and brother after 50 days apart on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Six-year-old Emilia Aloni, and her mother, Daniel, arrive back in Israel on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Six-year-old Emilia Aloni, and her mother, Daniel, arrive back in Israel on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Six-year-old Emilia Aloni is greeted by family upon her release back to Israel on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital
Six-year-old Emilia Aloni is greeted by family upon her release back to Israel on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of Schneider Children’s Hospital

The hostages now being released – 50 overall, to be released over a few days – are returning home as part of a deal reached between Israel and Hamas, which was brokered by the United States, Qatar and Egypt. In return for their release, Israel is freeing some 150 Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, halting its operation in the Gaza Strip for a number of days and allowing humanitarian aid into the area.

Emily Hand and her father are reunited upon her release from Hamas captivity on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
Emily Hand and her father are reunited upon her release from Hamas captivity on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
Emily Hand and her father are reunited upon her release from Hamas captivity on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
Emily Hand and her father are reunited upon her release from Hamas captivity on November 25, 2023. Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

The returning hostages include some of the women and children held by Hamas. Men and soldiers – both male and female – are not part of this exchange.

Hila Rotem is embraced by her uncle upon her return to Israel. Her mother, Raya, is still being held captive in the Gaza Strip. Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
Hila Rotem is embraced by her uncle upon her return to Israel. Her mother, Raya, is still being held captive in the Gaza Strip. Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
Yafa Adar, 85, is escorted back to Israel after spending nearly 50 days in Hamas captivity, on November 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Adar family
Yafa Adar, 85, is escorted back to Israel after spending nearly 50 days in Hamas captivity, on November 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Adar family
Great-grandmother Yafa Adar, 85, is surrounded by family upon her return to Israel on November 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Adar family
Great-grandmother Yafa Adar, 85, is surrounded by family upon her return to Israel on November 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Adar family

Separately, Thai nationals who were kidnapped by Hamas in Israel’s southern communities, where they were working in agriculture, are also being returned by Hamas. Their release is being orchestrated separately by the Thai government, reportedly with the aid of Iran.

Among the hostages returned so far are Emily Hand, who was documented running excitedly to her emotional father.

In another video, Ohad Munder, who marked his ninth birthday in Hamas captivity, can be seen spotting his father for the first time. For many Israelis, the image of his face lighting up upon seeing his dad was a wonderful, heartwarming respite from an otherwise endlessly bleak news cycle.

Similarly, a photo of Yoni Asher being reunited with his wife, Doron, and daughters Raz and Aviv, melted the hearts of many, as did images of grandmothers released from captivity being surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

Ruti Munder, 78, is accompanied by a soldier upon her return to Israel together with her daughter, Keren, and grandson, Ohad. Her husband, Avraham, is still in Hamas captivity. Photo courtesy of the Munder family
Ruti Munder, 78, is accompanied by a soldier upon her return to Israel together with her daughter, Keren, and grandson, Ohad. Her husband, Avraham, is still in Hamas captivity. Photo courtesy of the Munder family
Keren Munder, left, was released from captivity with her mother, Ruti, and son, Ohad. Her father, Avraham, is still held captive in Gaza. Photo courtesy of the Munder family
Keren Munder, left, was released from captivity with her mother, Ruti, and son, Ohad. Her father, Avraham, is still held captive in Gaza. Photo courtesy of the Munder family

Among the hostages released on Sunday were the Haran-Shoham family. The photos shared by the Prime Minister’s Office show Shoshan Haran, 67, her daughter Adi Shoham, 38, and her two children Naveh Shoham, 9, and Yahel Hosham, 3, arriving back in Israel.

Adi’s husband, Tal Shoham, is still being held captive in Gaza.

Upon their arrival, the family was greeted by soldiers, who provided emotional support for the adults and toys and games for the children.

Yahel Hosham being greeted by soldiers upon her arrival in Israel. Photo courtesy of Prime Minister’s Office
Yahel Hosham being greeted by soldiers upon her arrival in Israel. Photo courtesy of Prime Minister’s Office

Shoshan is a world-renowned agronomist, who in the past worked in Ethiopia and Tanzania, helping the locals develop advanced agriculture methods. She founded the non-profit Fair Planet, which works to prevent hunger among children around the world.

Shoshan Haran being consoled by a soldier upon her arrival in Israel. Photo courtesy of Prime Minister’s Office
Shoshan Haran being consoled by a soldier upon her arrival in Israel. Photo courtesy of Prime Minister’s Office

Another child who was freed is an Israeli American toddler, Abigail Edan. She turned four in captivity in Gaza. Abigail’s grandfather, Carmel, 75, greeted the child on arrival.

Both of Abigail’s parents — Roi and Smadar — were murdered by Hamas on October 7 in their home in Kfar Aza in front of her eyes. Abigail’s siblings, Michael, 9, and Amalia, 6, hid in a closet and survived. Roi was a longtime photographer for Israel’s biggest news site, Ynet.

In a televised address, US President Joe Biden welcomed the return of Abigail, one of several American citizens taken hostage to Gaza on October 7.

“What she endured is unthinkable,” Biden said. “Thank God she’s home. I just can’t imagine the enjoyment. I wish I were there to hold her.”

ISRAEL21c joins everyone here in Israel in welcoming back the hostages, wishing them a full recovery and much happiness with their loved ones.

We anxiously await the return of all of the 240 people kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, and very much hope to bring you further good news.

Originally posted at israel21c.org

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