October 24, 2023
London, UK — A British national, Sharone Lifschitz, has expressed immense relief after her mother, Yocheved Lifshitz, was released from captivity in Gaza by the militant group Hamas. Yocheved Lifshitz and another hostage, Nurit Cooper, were handed over to the Red Cross at the Rafah crossing on Monday evening and will be transferred shortly to Israel. While both women released by Hamas were Israelis, Yocheved Lifshitz’s daughter confirmed that her mother had been freed.
Sharone Lifschitz, based in London, stated, “I can confirm that my mother Yochi Lifshitz was one of two hostages released to the Red Cross this evening. While I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those, some 200 innocent people, who remain hostages in Gaza.“
A spokeswoman for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) stated, “We welcome the release of a further two hostages this evening. Our thoughts remain with the families of loved ones still being held captive, as they endure unimaginable anguish and worry at this time. We will continue to work tirelessly with Qatar, Israel, and others to ensure all hostages come home safely.”
The two freed hostages, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79, were taken from their homes in the kibbutz of Nir Oz near the Gaza border during Hamas’s October 7 rampage into southern Israeli communities. Their husbands have not been released.
Hamas claimed that it released the two women for humanitarian reasons, following the liberation of an American woman and her teenage daughter. Sharone Lifschitz had spoken to the media earlier on Monday, expressing her concern as she hadn’t heard from her parents since the ambush by Hamas more than two weeks ago. She described her parents as having complex health needs, with her father recording high blood pressure the night before he was captured.
The United States has advised Tel Aviv to delay an expected ground invasion to allow time to negotiate the release of more hostages taken by Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.
This release comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that British intelligence had concluded that Israel was unlikely to have been responsible for a hospital blast in Gaza City on October 17. The explosion at the al Ahli hospital, thought to have killed hundreds of people, provoked condemnation worldwide and sparked rival claims about who was to blame. Israel and Hamas both issued conflicting accounts regarding the cause of the blast, with the Palestinian militant group blaming an Israeli airstrike, while the Israeli military attributed it to a misfiring rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.
Prime Minister Sunak, during his statement to MPs, emphasized the need to avoid rush judgments in such situations. He also confirmed that the UK Government would provide an additional £20 million of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, acknowledging the dire circumstances faced by the people in the region.
The international community continues to monitor the situation closely as efforts persist to secure the release of all remaining hostages in Gaza.