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Israel-Hamas war: 11 Israeli hostages are released

Hamas freed 11 Israeli hostages – all women and children taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz – on Monday, the fourth day of the ceasefire, according to the Israeli government.

This followed an initial release of 13 Israelis on Friday, 13 more on Saturday evening and 14 on Sunday. Some of those released have dual nationality.

An official briefed on the negotiations said it was essential for Israelis to avoid the separation of families and that their concerns had intensified when the final day of the initial truce began on Monday. Two sets of siblings returned to Israel with their mothers Monday evening, but their fathers are believed to still be detained in Gaza.

Here’s what we know about the Israeli citizens released on Monday.

Sharon Alony Cunio, 34, and her 3-year-old twins, Emma Cunio and Yuli Cunio

Sharon Alony Cunio, with her twin daughters, Emma Alony Cunio and Yuli Alony Cunio.Credit…Forum on hostages and missing families

Sharon Alony Cunio, her husband, David Cunio, and their 3-year-old twin daughters, Emma and Yuli, were hiding in their air-raid shelter on Kibbutz Nir Oz with Sharon’s sister, Danielle Alony, and her 5-year-old daughter, Amelia . , when they were taken hostage on October 7. The last message their family received from them on WhatsApp read: “Help, we are dying.”

Their family members, including a cousin, Alana Zeitchik, have shared their story and advocated for their release in meetings with political leaders around the world.

Danielle and Amelia Alony were released Friday.

Ms Zeitchik described Emma and Yuli as “the happiest twins you could imagine”. Their cousin Amelia, Ms. Zeitchik said, is the star of the family. “She’s a smart, witty, witty little girl, you really can’t put anything past her.”

“The damage that has been done to these children, this suffering and this pain does not stop when they are released,” she said, adding: “Their return is surrounded by a lot of pain and trauma. »

David Cunio, 33, is believed to still be in Gaza.

Karina Engelbert, 51; Mika Engel, 18; Yuval Engel, 11 years old

Karina Engelbert, left, and her daughters, Mika Engel and Yuval Engel.Credit…Forum on hostages and missing families, via Reuters

Karina Engelbert, 51, and her entire family, including her husband, Ronen Engel, 54, and their daughters, Mika, 18, and Yuval, 11, were taken from the safe room of their home on Kibbutz Nir Oz.

When she was taken away, Ms. Engelbert was still recovering from a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery gone wrong. She was weak and tired easily, and a buildup of painful scar tissue on her chest caused a feeling of tightness, limiting her mobility.

“We don’t know if she’s getting medical treatment, if anyone is caring for her, if she’s getting pain relief or if she’s getting the medications she needs to keep the cancer from coming back,” said Diego Engelbert, Mrs. Engelbert’s brother. said last week.

Ronen Engel would still be in Gaza.

Eitan Yahalomi, 12 years old

Eitan YahalomiCredit…Forum on hostages and missing families

Eitan and his family went to their vault when the alarms first went off at Kibbutz Nir Oz.

When news reached the Yahalomi family that Hamas was going house to house, Eitan’s father, Ohad, sat in front of the family safe. The door was broken, said Efrat Avsker, Ohad’s sister, and he tried to stop Hamas from entering.

“There were negotiations between Ohad and the terrorists,” Ms. Avsker said, “they shot him in the leg and in the arm.”

The attackers took Eitan’s mother, Bat-Sheva, and her three children – Liel, 1, Yael, 10, and Eitan – leaving Ohad behind.

“They saw him on the ground bleeding,” Ms. Avsker said of Ohad’s family, “and he told them he loved them.”

Eitan, who has dual Israeli and French nationality, was separated from his mother and sisters and taken to Gaza. Bat-Sheva and her daughters managed to escape and hide in a field, Ms. Avsker said.

The family later learned that Ohad had also been kidnapped.

“Ohad’s family, and most of the residents of these kibbutzim, are people who believe in peace,” Ms. Avsker said. “They wanted peace. They believed in coexistence.

Ohad Yahalomi reportedly remained in Gaza.

Erez Kalderon, 12 years old; Sahar Kalderon, 16 years old

Erez KalderonCredit…via Associated Press
Sahar KalderonCredit…via Associated Press

Ofer Kalderon, 53, his daughter Sahar, 16, and son Erez, 12, were arrested at the family home on Kibbutz Nir Oz. Both Erez and Sahar have dual Israeli and French nationality. Gaya Kalderon, 21, last heard from her sister Sahar on the morning of October 7, when she sent a text message saying they were in hiding and had left their home.

A day later, Gaya saw a video on Instagram of a child being pushed down a path. It was her brother, Erez – the first sign of her loved ones’ demise that she had seen.

The children’s mother, Hadas Kalderon, then went to the house from which they had been taken with her ex-husband, which had been reduced to charred ruins. Some relics from the family home, including a photo of Erez, remained. His mother and niece were found dead near the kibbutz.

Ofer Kalderon is believed to still be in Gaza.

Or Yaakov, 16 years old; Yagil Yaakov, 12 years old

Or YaakovCredit…Forum on hostages and missing families, via Reuters
Yagil YaakovCredit…Forum on hostages and missing families, via Reuters

Or Yaakov, 16 years old; a brother, Yagil, 12; their father, Yair, 59; and his girlfriend, Meirav Tal, 53, were all taken hostage at Kibbutz Nir Oz.

However, Yaakov suffers from a life-threatening peanut allergy and could die if exposed to small amounts of peanut powder, according to Dr. Arnon Elizur, who has spoken out publicly in recent weeks to draw attention to on the fate of hostages suffering from health problems. Yagil appeared in a hostage-taking video released on November 9 by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an armed group based in Gaza.

“You can recognize him, but his eyes are…” said his cousin, Sheffa Phillips-Bahat, pausing, “—he looks like he went through so much so quickly. It’s just that there is so much less life in them.

Neither Yair Yaakov nor Meirav Tal were released along with Or and Yagil.

Nadav Gavrielov reports contributed.

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