Grandma freed from Hamas captivity ‘very sharp’ and willing to share details

A grandmother freed as a hostage by Hamas militants is “very perceptive and very willing” to share information, her daughter said, as efforts continue to free other captives and provide aid to Palestinians.

Sharone Lifschitz, who is based in London, said her 85-year-old mother, Yocheved Lifshitz, “seems fine” after being freed from her week-long ordeal in Gaza.

He was released along with fellow Israeli citizen Nurit Cooper, 79, on Monday night, but their husbands, 83 and 84, remain captive with more than 200 other citizens.

Britain said six of its nationals are among those still being held hostage since Hamas launched its bloody raids on Israel on October 7.

When she was freed by the Palestinian fighters, Ms Lifshitz was seen reaching back to shake one of their hands as she was released to Red Cross officials.

Ms Lifschitz, an artist and academic who spells her name differently from her mother, said it was “incredible” to be reunited with her – “holding her hand and kissing her cheek”.

“She's very perceptive and she's very willing to share the information, to pass the information on to the families of other hostages she was with,” he told the BBC.

She said she would continue to campaign for the release of her father, Oded Lifschitz, and the other captives.

“I hope he gets taken care of and he gets a chance to talk,” Sharone Lifschitz said.

“He speaks good Arabic, so he can communicate very well with the people there.

“He knows a lot of people in Gaza and the West Bank. I want to believe he will be fine.

“My mum said they were taken care of and there was a doctor there, so that gives everyone a lot of comfort.

“We have so many people we've lost – it's a small ray of light, but there's also a huge darkness.”

Ms Lifschitz said she and her mother still dream of peace with the Palestinians, even as an expected ground invasion of Gaza by Israel threatens to spark a wider war in the region.

“We have to find ways because there is no alternative. If anything, it makes me even more determined,” she said.

“The road has been long – we are dealing with grief and loss on a level we can never overcome, but as a nation we will have to find a way forward.”

The release of the two women brought the total number of people freed to four, with an American woman and her teenage daughter released three days earlier.

In the UK, Chancellor of the Exchequer Victoria Atkins confirmed that the number of British nationals being held hostage by Hamas was believed to be six.

“It is our absolute priority,” the minister told Sky News.

Charities are urging the government to prepare to provide shelter to thousands of Palestinians who want to leave Gaza, home to more than two million people.

But Ms Atkins said it was not the right time to consider granting asylum.

He told LBC: “At the moment, I don't think that's the right answer because we need to keep the pressure on this terrorist organization to stop hostilities, release hostages and return to the diplomatic negotiating table.

“We want the Palestinians to be able to live freely in their own territory. We do not want these hostilities to continue by this terrorist organization.”

The Foreign Office welcomed the release of the hostages.

“Our thoughts remain with the families of loved ones still being held captive as they endure unimaginable anguish and worry at this time,” a spokeswoman said.

“We will continue to work tirelessly with Qatar, Israel and others to ensure that all hostages return home safely.”

Doha is a key mediator in the Middle East conflict, with a number of figures in Hamas' political wing said to be living in Qatar.

Ms. Lifshitz and Ms. Cooper surrendered to the Red Cross at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Hamas said it released the two women on humanitarian grounds.

Along with their husbands, they were snatched from their homes in the Nir Oz kibbutz near the Gaza border during Hamas' rampage in southern Israeli communities.

More than 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians, were killed in the initial attack by Hamas.

According to the Hamas health ministry in Gaza, more than 5,000 Palestinians, including about 2,000 minors and 1,100 women, have been killed since then.