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‘We were very afraid’: Former hostage speaks about surviving Hamas captivity in Gaza

Luis Har was taken as a hostage by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack and spent more than four months imprisoned in Gaza, before a rescue operation by the IDF set him free.

Luis Har spent 129 days in Gaza before being rescued by the Israeli military

Hamas captivity a psychological war, says former hostage

14 hours ago

Duration 9:26

Luis Har and his family were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7. He was rescued by the Israel Defence Forces more than four months later. Har says his 129 days as a hostage ‘changed everything … [we are] different people,’ and that he hopes to live in peace one day.

A former hostage, who was rescued by the Israeli military in February, is describing how he survived 129 days in captivity in Gaza.

On Oct. 7, Argentine-Israeli Luis Har was taken hostage by the Palestinian militant group Hamas from a kibbutz near the Gaza border, along with his partner Clara Marman, Clara's brother Fernando Marman, Clara's sister Gabriela Leimberg and Gabriela's daughter, 17-year-old Mia Leimberg.

"They take us brutally, we were very afraid [for] our lives," he said in an interview with Rosemary Barton Live, describing how armed men broke into the house. "They take us with the car to Gaza."

Har told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton that, while in captivity, they tried to keep quiet and avoid anything that would make the guards nervous, because they knew Hamas wasn't afraid to shoot. They couldn't leave the room they were in and had to ask permission to go to the bathroom.

"It's very difficult to be in this situation…. The possibility if you talk no good or say something, maybe they shoot you," he said. "We were very afraid."

WATCH | Har describes 'very difficult' conditions in captivity:

Man held hostage by Hamas recalls 'very difficult' captivity in Gaza

1 day ago

Duration 0:57

Luis Har, an Argentine Israeli who was held hostage by Hamas for 129 days in Gaza, spoke to CBC's Rosemary Barton about his time in captivity.

Israel says 253 people were taken hostage by Hamas and other militant groups as part of the attack on Oct. 7. Since then, over 100 hostages have been released, most of them as part of a temporary ceasefire deal in November.

All of the women in Har's family were released as part of that deal, including 17-year-old Mia Leimberg and her dog Bella.

"It was difficult. I held [Bella] all the way there. It was an extra four kilos. And I'm just lucky enough that I managed to keep her through that whole situation and bring her back," Leimberg told Reuters in December.

A man poses for a photo.

Experience changed him, ex-hostage says

Months later, on Feb. 12, Har and Fernando Marman were finally rescued in an overnight raid by the Israel Defence Forces in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. At 2 o'clock in the morning, Har heard explosions. He thought the IDF was bombing the building they were in.

"We listen in Hebrew … the soldiers call my name and say to me, 'It's OK, Luis, it's OK, we are the army, we're coming to take you home,'" he said.

Israel launched a military offensive in Hamas-run Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 cross-border attack, in which about 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli officials. Israel's assault on Gaza has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians and wounded nearly 80,000, most of them civilians, health officials in Gaza say.

Israel says more than 130 hostages remain in Gaza. Protesters have been taking to the streets across the country calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a ceasefire deal that would bring them home. The Netanyahu government has insisted it will not stop the war until Hamas is destroyed and all the hostages are returned.

Har says he doesn't want to tell the government what to do, but he believes the most important thing is to bring the hostages back home. "It's so difficult to be there. No medicines, and no food…. I don't know how many people there are still alive, it's so hard."

WATCH | Key moment in war as U.S. leans on Israel:

Pressure mounts on Netanyahu as war drags on

3 days ago

Duration 2:56

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is determined to defeat Hamas, but it has cost him support at home and abroad and put his political future in jeopardy.

Har says being held hostage in Gaza for 129 days changed him as a person.

"Every noise, every explosion … they [take] us back to the situation we were in Gaza. We are different, different people."

He says he can't go back to his home in the south because of the constant explosions. His hope is that one day he will be able to return home to live in peace with his family.

"We are [peaceful] people, you know, we don't like to make wars … and we have a lot of friends from Gaza. They're coming to work … but now I don't know what will be," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Ramsaran

Producer

Sarah Ramsaran is a producer at CBC News based in Toronto.

    With files from Rosemary Barton and Reuters

    *****
    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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