Clara freed from captivity, but husband and brother remain in Gaza: 'In my head, I'm there, I never came back'

Clara Marman released in November along with sister and niece, but brother Fernando and partner Louis left behind; 'Physically, I am here. Instead of being happy, I feel that a part of me is still in Gaza. I am desperate'

Nir (Shoko) Cohen, Sharon Kidon|
"I'm quite desperate. I was supposed to be very happy after being released from the Gaza Strip, but a part of me remains there - both my partner and my brother," said Clara Marman, 63, who was abducted to the Gaza Strip from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7.
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"It weighs heavily on me, and I don't exactly feel like I've come back - a part of me is still there. Physically, I'm here, but the feeling is that a significant part of me is left behind. Right now, I'm making every effort to join the fight and advocate as much as possible for their return. The slogan 'The heart is there' is not just a slogan for me; my heart is truly captive because my brother, Fernando Marman, is there, and also my partner, Louis Har."
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קלרה מרמן
קלרה מרמן
Clara Marman
(Photo: Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum)
"We were five who were abducted from my home in Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, and when I was released on November 28, only my sister Gabriela Leimberg, my niece Mia Leimberg, together with her dog Bella, and I returned. Then we parted from Louis and Fernando before coming here," Clara added.
Clara recounted the moment of her release from captivity, without her brother and partner. "We were informed in advance that there would be releases; I was part of the fifth phase, the intermediaries updated us, and we knew that every day we could potentially leave. Different lists were passed every day until we finally left, and we were prepared in advance."
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החזרת חטופים מיאה למברג והכלבה בלה
החזרת חטופים מיאה למברג והכלבה בלה
Mia Leimberg and her dog Bella released from Hamas captivity
(Photo: Reuters)
"Before the operation started, they said we were a package deal as a family and would leave together. However, when the process began, they stated it was only children and women, and the men would stay. So, we were already prepared, discussing it among ourselves. For my sister and me, it was very difficult; we said there was no chance, and we only wanted to leave together. But Fernando and Louis said, 'No chance, you're leaving.' They tried to handle it as calmly as possible so that we wouldn't suffer, but it was hard for both us and them."
"We said our goodbyes with hugs, 'Just three more days, and we'll meet again,' we said because we were convinced that the releases would continue. We never thought everything would come to a halt," Clara continued.
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 מיאה ליימברג לואיס הר פרננדו מרמן
 מיאה ליימברג לואיס הר פרננדו מרמן
Fernando Marman and Louis Har
(Photo: Private album)
"We thought there must be more children, a few more women, and then they would start with the men. 'See you soon,' we said. At that point, it wasn't dramatic externally, but it was incredibly tough for us. Louis is a father of four and a grandfather to ten grandchildren. I asked him what message to convey to the family, and he said, 'Wait for me in the green gardens, tell them I love them very much, and soon we'll see each other and embrace.' And then we hugged and parted ways."
Clara expressed her deepest concern about the emotional and mental state of Louis and Fernando. "Upon my arrival in Israel, I received a lot of support and hugs, and I was embraced very well. However, they don't know if there are any efforts to bring them back if they have been forgotten.
"The mental state is what worries me the most, both health-wise and emotionally, because there, it's just waiting. Second after second with no action, no choice in what to do. My greatest concern is that they will break emotionally. Regarding the conditions and relations with the returnees, I don't want to elaborate. I just want to protect them, so I don't want to expose all the details. I can only say that the biggest difficulty there is the time that doesn't pass and the lack of action, a feeling of nothing.
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גבריאלה ליימברג מיאה ליימברג הכלבה בלה קלרה מרמן
גבריאלה ליימברג מיאה ליימברג הכלבה בלה קלרה מרמן
Clara Marman, Mia Leimberg holding her dog Bella, and Gabriella Leimberg after their release from Hamas captivity
"I am undergoing both physical and mental rehabilitation with a psychologist. I joined the fight of my daughters, who fought like lionesses in the Families' hostages and missing tent, giving interviews both in Israel and abroad, traveling all over the world. Now I am trying to strengthen myself just to get into the struggle, to exert all my strength to try to succeed in bringing them back.
"But returning to routine is out of the question - in no way. I am truly happy that not only my family received me well, but I also received warmth from all of the people of Israel. However, I cannot go back to normal because I am in a fight until the end. On the one hand, I want to strengthen myself and try that the issue doesn't fall off the agenda because the captives need to be back as soon as possible. It's forbidden for them to stay there for even a moment longer.
Clara also delivered a message to the government. "My message to them is that there is no price that is too high, there is nothing that endangers Israel, there is nothing that they cannot pay in return for the captives. They are the most important thing. I might return to Nir Yitzhak only if I know that my government is making every effort in the world to bring back each one. That's my confidence in the government and the place.
The most important thing is to know that you can trust the government that preserves its citizens and brings them back, not abandoning them. We already felt a sense of abandonment on October 7. I expected that we would have the necessary protection that I felt was there, but it wasn't there on October 7. For this country to survive - every captive must return."
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