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Believe in it or prepare for the worst? The “roller coaster” of a mother of hostage children in Gaza

Photo: Maayan Ziv via Associated Press Undated photograph of Dafna Elyakim, 15, and Ella Elyakim, 8, with their mother, Mayaan Ziv. Dafna and Ela were taken to Gaza by Hamas fighters.

“I open WhatsApp and I see a photo of Dafna sitting in her pajamas on a mattress in Gaza with the comment “In prayer clothes it would be better”,” says the mother of the kidnapped 15-year-old Israeli, swallowing. , with her 8-year-old little sister, by Hamas.

“I tell myself that it’s not possible,” Maayan Zin, 52, told AFP, without news of her daughters Dafna and Ela Elyakim since this unique proof of life dating back to October 8, the day after the unprecedented attack perpetrated by the Palestinian Islamist movement.

Two days earlier, on the 6th, his daughters returned from vacation in Turkey. Maayan went to the airport to kiss them before they went with their father, Noam, and his partner Dikla, to sleep at their home in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz bordering the Gaza Strip.

At the first warning sirens on Saturday morning, October 7, Maayan wrote to her ex-husband who reassured her. Last message on the family group screen.

The rest of the ordeal was documented on video. At the end of the morning, a Facebook live begins to be broadcast from Dikla's account.

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Two masked men wearing the green Hamas headband film themselves in the Israeli house, the father is bloodied. Ela, her eyes bulging with fear, is on her knees.

The relatives try to communicate via the chat: “Mom I love you”, written at 1:20 p.m. sons of Dikla absent from home.

His other son, Tomer, 17, present during the attack, was then used at gunpoint “for several hours” by his executioners to go door to door in the kibbutz, and lure his holed-up neighbors in Hebrew. in the shelters.

“They [also] made him enter the houses to hunt down everyone,” says Maayan Zin.

« I see them dead”

The bodies of Tomer, Dikla and Noam were found riddled with bullets on a vacant lot.


Dafna and Ella, spared without anyone understanding why, were taken to Gaza.

Hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrated on October 7 from Gaza onto Israeli soil, notably into kibbutzim, where they carried out the deadliest attack since the creation of Israel in 1948.

More than 1,400 people have been killed since, the majority civilians in this unprecedented attack by Hamas, which still holds at least 240 hostages according to Israeli authorities.


Nearly 8,800 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the incessant bombings carried out in retaliation by the Israeli army on the Gaza Strip, which was under total siege, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

< p>“Sometimes I imagine that we rape them, that we beat them, a little later […] I tell myself that there are so many children there, that they are obliged to do well treat them,” says Maayan Zin, torn.

“I see them in tunnels, in rooms without light, underground or taking refuge in hospitals so as not to be bombed,” she says in a breath. “I see them dead, injured.”


Every morning, Maayan Zin rushes to her phone to scan the Facebook and Telegram groups and Whatsapp looking for a new video from Gaza or a message from the kidnappers.

Out of sweat several times a day, she manages these surges of anxiety by forcing herself “not to implode” in the event of the return of her daughters, who now have only her.

But three weeks after their kidnapping, Maayan Zin, who sleeps every night with her daughters' pajamas against her face to smell their scent, also fears paying dearly for this hope that comes from her guts.


“Maybe they killed my daughters? Maybe they have 230 bodies there? “, she questions with a look.

It will perhaps take “days, weeks, years, I don't know”, continues Ms. Zin, also fearing that her daughters “will come back different “.

Among the scenarios on their return, in addition to her dilemma on how she will be able to hold them both at the same time, she wants to “buy a big bed so that we can sleep all three together,” she says, before closing in.

Having child hostages in Gaza, she explains, is like going through “this constant roller coaster.” “When I wake up from this nightmare, only then can I begin to dream.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116