For 50 days, they were kept in a secluded room with one other hostage who is still held captive. Now, they are finally home. Noam Or, 16, and his sister Alma, 13, were released on Saturday in the deal negotiated by Qatar and the U.S. to free women and children abducted by Hamas terrorists.
But hopes of reuniting with their mother Yonat were crushed when they learned that she was murdered in Kibbutz Be'eri in the October 7 massacre. Their father Dror was also taken by Hamas and is still being held in captivity.
Ahal Besorai, Noam and Alma's uncle, said in an interview that the hope to see their mom had kept them going during the long weeks. The news was a devastating blow, he said.
“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," he told CNN. "That was a terribly emotional and traumatic moment for them,” he said.
Besorai would not divulge much information in the interview out of concern for hostages still being held but said “it wasn’t pleasant, to say the least. It was horrible.” He said that the kids and the woman they had been held with kept a journal during their captivity, although they were forbidden to take it with them.
He also said the woman, who had been a support for the kids and was supported as well by them, in difficult times, was not told that they were to be released. According to the uncle, the kids were told they were being taken to the bathroom but then they were blindfolded and their hands tied.
Noam and Alma were taken from their home after it was set on fire. They did not know that their father Dror was also abducted, until they returned.
“When Hamas terrorists burned their house in order to force them out of the safe room, the kids jumped from the window and tried to hide in a different place but the terrorists found them and took them to Gaza in a stolen car from the kibbutz. They put Noam in the trunk and my niece in the front with eight other Hamas terrorists,” Besorai said.
In a video call from the Philippines where he currently is staying, Besorai spoke to the children for a long time.
“The first image of Alma on the screen was her bright, glittery eyes and big smile. Obviously she has lost weight and looks much, much slimmer, but her beautiful smile and glittering eyes warms your heart so I started to cry,” he said in describin the call. “Noam was very talkative and wanting to share. He shared some personal stuff that he was going through – maybe talking about it for the first time with someone who loves him and cares for him will help him to heal.”