But when Noam, 17, and Alma, 13, were released together on Saturday, “this dream had been shattered by the fact that she was murdered,” said the siblings’ maternal uncle Ahal Besorai.
“My sister, their mom, was murdered on October 7. The children did not know that,” he said, speaking to CNN from the Philippines. “We thought they were together when they were kidnapped, but they were separated from the outset.”
“When they first crossed the border and reunited with their grandmother and older brother, the first news that they had to confront was the fact that their mom is no longer alive. And that was a terribly emotional and traumatic moment for them,” Besorai added.
The siblings’ father Dror remains missing, believed captive in Gaza.
The family had lived in the Be’eri kibbutz, a close-knit farming community of about 1,100 residents, located close to the Gaza border. But the idyllic kibbutz became the scene of bloodshed and devastation on October 7, as one of the main targets for Hamas militants who poured over the border and laid siege to nearby communities.
The militants murdered more than 120 Be’eri residents, including children, and kidnapped others. They set people’s homes on fire, looted, stole and destroyed what they could. In total, some 1,200 people, most civilians, were slain by Hamas militants across southern Israel that day.
It was amid this chaos and terror that Noam and Alma were separated from their parents and taken hostage by Hamas. While in Gaza, they were taken to a house and kept in a room with another woman from their kibbutz, said Besorai, who also grew up in Be’eri.
He didn’t describe in detail what the siblings had gone through, saying he didn’t want to add to the burden of families with loved ones still held hostage. But, he said, “it wasn’t pleasant, to say the least. It was horrible.”