Hostages had to prepare food but couldn’t eat it, mother of hostage says

The hostage, Liri Elbag, has been detained in Gaza captivity for 164 days along with 133 other hostages, some of whom were murdered. 

Liri’s mother, Shira, spoke on Monday with “Kan B” about information she received from hostages released in November, which indicates that her daughter was exploited by her captors.

“Liri moved between houses. She had to cook for the family with whom she was staying, take care of their children, and clean their house. The hostages had to prepare food, but they themselves could not eat,” she said.

“In a week that apparently concentrated a large number of hostages, some of whom were later released, they shared their experiences. At that point in time, Liri remained in the tunnel; we assume that she is still there,” she said. 

People hold signs and a tshirt calling for the release of hostages during the hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel, in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 28, 2023. (credit: ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA / REUTERS)

She also said, “I tried a few times to sit enclosed in a dark room in the house, without a phone, without anything – I managed maybe for an hour and got up crying.”

Regarding the sexual abuse committed by Hamas terrorists on the hostages in captivity, Liri’s mother said: “I constantly try to imagine what she goes through there; it’s very difficult. We all know that many girls have been abused there, and as a mother, I try not to think about it at all – I try not to imagine it.”

‘Only want to hear good things’

“When I meet female hostages who were released, I ask about things they may not have told me. The truth is that I only want to hear the good things that happened at that time because the bad things are no longer relevant either,” she noted.

“Some things are funny because Liri is a very imaginative girl,” Shira said. “She would say to them, ‘Let’s imagine we are in a restaurant, what would you like to eat?’. Each one had to say what she liked the most, and they would also get angry with her – ‘But Liri, because of you we are even hungrier now.'”

She referred to the hostage deal talks and said, “Our prime minister must return them home. I try not to be a politician and really maintain a pleasant discourse, but it is already very difficult for us because unpleasant things are said about the hostages…We are talking about human life here – we are talking about my daughter, who is 19 years old. We heard that the negotiating team did not get enough of a mandate to produce this deal. I mean, they could have given more, and I  hope they will extend its mandate even during the talks so that this deal will come to fruition.”