Advertisement

London man tells of relief after mother among latest hostages released by Hamas

Ada Sagi, 75, was released on Tuesday (AP)
Ada Sagi, 75, was released on Tuesday (AP)

A British-Israeli man has spoken out about the "psychological terror" in waiting for his mother to be freed in the latest hostage release.

Noam Sagi's 75-year-old mother Ada is one of 12 captives who left Gaza and travelled through Egypt to get to Israeli territory on Tuesday.

Londoner Mr Sagi described his mother, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, as a peace activist who was part of a community which "fought all their lives for good neighbouring relationships".

He told the BBC: "My heart just expanded beyond belief for the last 53 days to contain the pain. It's actually the first time this big bleeding heart is excited. It's a bit unreal for now. We're shaking.

"We are just going to give her the biggest, loving, squashy hug possible, just to connect and remind her that we were never ever going to abandon her, that we never ever stopped fighting to get her back."

But he added that he "doesn't know that she has no home to come back to" or how many friends she's lost.

Ms Sagi was freed with 11 others - some 10 Israelis (one minor and nine women) and two Thais, according to the Qatar foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari.

They Include 36-year-old Rimon Kirsht, who was taken from her home in Kibbutz Nirim alongside her husband Yagev who is still being held in Gaza.

Among them are also 17-year-old Mia Leimberg, her mother Gabriela Leimberg, 59, the oldest hostage to be released Ditza Heiman, 84, Ofelia Roitman, 77, Nora Babadila, 60, Clara Marman, 62, Tamar Metzger, 78, Meirav Tal, 54, and Norlin Babdila, 60.

Israel has released 30 Palestinian prisoners in return, which reportedly include 15 minors and 15 women, Mr Ansari said.

The 12 hostages will have their identities verified and they will be given initial medical assessments before being taken to Israeli hospitals and reunited with their families.

Hamas handing a hostage over to the Red Cross (Reuters)
Hamas handing a hostage over to the Red Cross (Reuters)
Newly-released hostages being handed over to the Red Cross in Rafah (AFP via Getty Images)
Newly-released hostages being handed over to the Red Cross in Rafah (AFP via Getty Images)

Monday saw 11 hostages released, which were made up of two mothers and nine children, including three-year-old twins.

Tuesday is the fifth day of a fragile truce between Israel and Hamas, after both sides agreed to extend the pause for two more days past Monday - the final day of the original four-day truce.

Mediators have met in Qatar to try to extend the current ceasefire beyond Wednesday.

For the first time since the pause began, Israel and Hamas traded accusations of a serious violation with an exchange of fire between troops and militants in northern Gaza. But there was no indication that it would endanger the truce or the planned exchanges of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.Israel has vowed to resume the war with "full force" to destroy Hamas once it's clear that no more hostages will be freed under the deal.

A Palestinian mother welcoming home her son Ahmad Salaima - one of the prisoners released by Israel (AFP via Getty Images)
A Palestinian mother welcoming home her son Ahmad Salaima - one of the prisoners released by Israel (AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration has told Israel it must avoid "significant further displacement" and mass casualties among Palestinian civilians if it resumes the offensive, and that it must operate with more precision in southern Gaza than it has in the north, according to US officials.

Hamas and other militants are still holding about 160 hostages out of the 240 seized in their October 7 attack.

Israel has said it is willing to extend the ceasefire by one day for every 10 additional hostages that Hamas releases, according to the deal brokered by the Qatar, Egypt and the US. But Hamas is expected to make much higher demands for the release of captive soldiers.