newsIsrael at War

Freed Israeli hostage: ‘Gazan civilians sold me to Hamas’

"They negotiated with Hamas to sell me. When they were paid, I was taken straight into a tunnel," Nili Margalit said.

Nili Margalit interviewed on Channel 12, Jan. 4, 2024. Credit: YouTube.
Nili Margalit interviewed on Channel 12, Jan. 4, 2024. Credit: YouTube.

Nili Margalit, 42, on a tour of Europe to raise awareness of the 133 Israeli hostages still in captivity, told France’s Le Point magazine on Monday that it was Palestinian Arab civilians, not Hamas, who abducted her from her home in Nir Oz on Oct. 7.

“They negotiated with Hamas to sell me. When they were paid, I was taken straight into a tunnel,” she said.

Margalit described the day of the attack. At 6:30 am she jumped up when she heard the alarms warning of incoming rockets and ran to her safe room. WhatsApp messages flooded in, some warning of terrorists in her kibbutz.

At 9:00 am, the terrorists, actually civilians, reached her home. They set fire inside her house and pulled her out of her safe room. They put her on a golf cart, covered her in a white sheet and drove her to the Gaza Strip border. She was surrounded by shouting Palestinian Arab civilians with Kalashnikov rifles.

She was then transferred to a car at the border and taken to Khan Yunis. At that point, she was “sold” to Hamas.

Margalit was taken to a “reception room” in a tunnel, which held about 30 people, some of whom she recognized from Nir Oz. The Israeli men had swollen faces and injured legs from being dragged on motorcycles.

They were divided up into smaller groups, including one for people over 70, the weak and sick. Margalit mentioned that she was an emergency room nurse. “Helping was my way of surviving,” she said.

Margalit was released on Nov. 30 along with seven others as part of a hostage-prisoner deal between Israel and Hamas.

One of the other hostages released that day was Mia Schem, who was captured while attending the Nova music festival. Schem told Israeli television in December that what she encountered in Gaza was “pure hatred.”

“There are no innocent citizens there. They are families controlled by Hamas. There are children who from the moment they are born are taught that Israel is Palestine and just to hate Jews,” she said.

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