Freed Israeli hostages speak of Gaza ‘hell’, a society of terrorists

Captured Jews were first paraded through the streets, and then held under harrowing conditions in family homes.

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Screenshot from the Hamas propaganda clip in which Mia Schem was forced to say she was being treated well in Gaza.
Screenshot from the Hamas propaganda clip in which Mia Schem was forced to say she was being treated well in Gaza.

In late November, Israel agreed to a brief pause in its war on Hamas and to the release of hundreds of jailed Palestinian terrorists in order to secure the release of Israeli women and children being held captive in Gaza.

It will still take a good long time for them to fully recover from being ripped out of their beds and homes on October 7, seeing their friends and family murdered all about them, and then enduring over 50 days in captivity under horrific conditions.

But this past week, some of them were ready to speak to the media, to tell the world what they had experienced and the truth about Hamas-ruled Gaza.


‘Everyone there was a terrorist’

Mia Schem was shot in the arm and then taken hostage when Hamas attacked the Nova music festival in southern Israel. She later became the first sign of life from the captive Israelis when Hamas released a video of her receiving medical treatment. It was later revealed that Mia was operated on by a veterinarian.

In the Hamas propaganda clip, she was made to say that those holding her captive were “very kind to me.”

Mia was released on November 30 as part of the hostage deals Israel made with Hamas via Qatar. This week she gave her first media interview, free of terrorist intimidation, and had something very different to say.

“It’s important for me to reflect the true situation about the people living in Gaza, who they really are. And about what I endured,” she told Channel 13 News. “I went through a holocaust. Everyone there was a terrorist.”

Schem and the others were not held as prisoners of war in some special facility, or even in the expansive tunnels Hamas constructed under Gaza. They were kept in family homes. Everyone in Gaza was in on it.

“Entire families in the service of Hamas, you know. I suddenly realized that I was being held by a family,” she recalled. “And then I start asking myself questions… why am I in a family home? Why are there children here? Why is there a woman here?”

A family ripped apart

On the morning of October 7, Avichai Brodetz leapt out of bed, geared up and joined the local rapid response team (kitat konenut) in defending Kfar Aza against invading Hamas terrorists. He was wounded, but fought on. When he finally returned home hours later, his family was gone.

His wife Hagar and their three children–Ofri (10), Yuval (9) and Oriya (4)–had been taken captive to the Gaza Strip. With them was 4-year-old neighbor Avigail Idan, who had run over to their house in shock after witnessing her own parents, Roee and Smadar Idan, brutally murdered by terrorists.

Hagar, her three children and the neighbor girl she had cared for in captivity were released on November 26.


‘Moments of absolute horror’

“I think there were at least 15 terrorists inside the house,” Hagar told Channel 12. “I screamed to them that there were children here, that they shouldn’t do anything.”

“When we arrived in Gaza, we were put on display,” she recalled. Many clips of civilian mobs joyously celebrating the mass slaughter and abduction of Jews that morning went viral on social media. “They [the terrorists] were honking the horn and then opened the doors. They beat me and pulled me by the hair. A terrorist pulled Ofri [her daughter] by the shirt to show off the ‘loot’ he had taken. Moments of absolute horror.”

“I thought they were going to kill us in the car,” said 10-year-old Ofri. “I thought during captivity that we would never return, and we would have to live in Gaza.”

An unexpected reunion

In the interview, Ofri’s father was sitting next to her. He asked, “Were you angry that I had left the house [to help defend the village]?” She replied: “No, if you hadn’t, you would probably have died there.”

Hagar said during the long 51 days of captivity, she was convinced her husband had indeed perished in the defense of Kfar Aza, as so many others had. “I told my captors that I was from Kfar Aza. They said no, it’s now Kfar Mavet (Death). I was sure there was no one left, that they had killed everyone.”

The family’s reunion on November 26 was a moment of unexpected joy, a small light in a sea of darkness.


Hell, and many are still there

The conditions of the Brodetz family’s captivity were “hell,” said Hagar. The terrorist forbade them to speak loudly or to cry, which was a challenge with two starving 4-year-olds. They were given only a few pita breads to eat each day, most of which Hagar saved for Oriya and Avigail to help keep them content and quiet. “No mother should have to beg for food for her children,” she lamented.

“There are still 129 hostages [in Gaza],” she reminded viewers. “That’s an astronomical number.”