As the war in southern Israel rages on, and the death toll already reaching 700 and counting, Israeli officials have obtained information about at least dozens more Israeli citizens who have been kidnapped and are being held captive in Gaza. Among the captives are dozens of American citizens, Thai workers employed in greenhouses in Gaza border towns, as well as citizens of Great Britain, Germany and Russia.
Three of the captives are 34-year-old Adi Koplon - a Canadian citizen and a resident of Holit; Liri Elbag – an IDF observer in Nahal Oz and Yafa Adar - an 85-year-old woman who was filmed being taken into the Gaza Strip by armed terrorists.
Yafa's granddaughter, Adva Adar, wrote a post on Facebook and included a photo of her kidnapped grandmother next to armed terrorists. "This is my grandmother! She was captured and transferred to Gaza. Her name is Yafa Adar, she is 85 years old! My grandmother, who founded the kibbutz with her own bare hands, who believed in Zionism, who loved this country that abandoned her, is kidnapped, probably thrown out somewhere, suffering from severe pain, without medication, without food and water. Scared to death, alone."
Adva also wrote that "no one talks to us, no one knows a thing. We obtained the information through videos that have been circulated online. I want this picture to be engraved in the minds of all members of this disgraceful government. Let them understand that there are people here, elderly and children, women and men, with names and families. I want them not to sleep at night and do whatever is necessary until these people return home."
Adi kidnapped to Gaza, her kids left at the border
Adi Koplon was also abducted by terrorists from her home on Saturday alongside her two children, one is four years old and the other is only six months old. However, the toddlers were found abandoned at the border.
Her father-in-law, Yondav Koplon, said that "Adi was at home alone with her children, because her husband, Benny, was with his brother at a party in Nirim. My two sons were besieged after the party. The partner of one of them was murdered and Adi was kidnapped by Hamas, along with my two grandchildren, from their home. At the border, they separated the mother from her children and Adi was taken into Gaza, while for unknown reasons they abandoned the children at the border in the dead of night."
A resident of Holit, who was also kidnapped from her home, was also left at the border at night; she saw Adi's two children and took them with her. "We don't know if the terrorists also abandoned her there or if she managed to escape," Yondav said.
"She took both of the children in her arms and started walking toward Israel until soldiers spotted them and accompanied them to the border. My son was able to locate them and reach them. They are currently on their way to medical examinations. The older child was slightly injured, and the baby has not been examined yet, but he seems fine."
Despite having the two children miraculously return home safely, the family still worries about the mother who is held in captivity in Gaza. "The feelings are terrible. It is hard to believe that after 75 years of independence, we are still experiencing pogroms and massacres of this kind," Yondav said.
Liri reported to base, taken less than 48 hours later
Another captive who is apparently held by terrorists in Gaza is Liri Elbag, an IDF observer who finished her training last Wednesday; on Thursday she reported to Nahal Oz and less than 48 hours later, she was kidnapped to Gaza.
Shira Elbag, Liri's mother, recognized her daughter in the videos that circulated online. "We planned to visit her on Saturday; she called at half past six in the morning, saying that they entered a bomb shelter because rockets were fired. An hour later, she called again, I heard gunshots in the background, and she said there was an infiltration. They didn't know what was happening outside the shelter. A few minutes later she sent a message 'They fired at us, I wasn't hurt,'" Shira said.
Similar to the cases of other missing persons and captives, Liri's parents also reported experiencing many hours of utter uncertainty.
"No one from the army contacted us. We obtained some information from all kinds of groups. Some said that the observers were in the military headquarters, some wrote that they were wounded and evacuated to Soroka Hospital. I set out in the direction of Soroka hospital, while on the way I heard that they were probably evacuated to Assaf HaRofeh Hospital, I made a U-turn and drove there, but no observer arrived - neither here nor there," they said.
"When I returned home at night, my children showed me a video in which they identified Liri as the abductee. I saw the video and refused to believe my eyes, saying it wasn't her. After a short while, I watched it again, and there was no doubt that it was her," he said.
"That same morning, she also sent us a picture from the shelter, and the clothes she was wearing were the same clothes that she wore in the video. She wasn’t wearing a uniform because they were woken up from their sleep."
According to her mother, Liri was not the only one seen in the video, and other parents recognized their daughters after she had shared the video with them.
"We don't know what to do," said Liri's mother. "We are completely helpless. We tracked her phone, which showed its location in the morning was in Nahal Oz, in the afternoon it showed that she was in Gaza, and then there was no signal at all. No military official contacted us. There is huge chaos. On the one hand, I saw that she was alive, and it provides some kind of consolation, but on the other hand - who knows when we will get to see her again."