‘Psychological torture’: British families describe pain as loved ones held hostage by Hamas

The families of people kidnapped by Britain-based Hamas have said they are suffering “psychological torture” as the militant group releases hostages one by one.

In an emotional press conference on Tuesday, Ofri Bibas Levi said she had been “living in a nightmare” since her brother Yarden, 34, his wife, Shiri, and his children, four-month-old Ariel and nine-month-old Kfir, were arrested. their home in Nir Oz on October 7th.

After the family was abducted, she said Hamas sent her a photo of the children taken and another image of her brother being manhandled by militants and bleeding from a head wound.

“The pictures keep running before my eyes,” he said at a press conference at the Israeli Embassy in London.

“I feel guilty about eating, I feel guilty about sleeping in my bed, I feel guilty about playing with my own children.”

When asked by a reporter what message she would like to send to her family, through tears she said: “I would tell my brother how much I love him, I always knew how much he loved me, but I never knew how much I loved. him.”

Hamas released two more hostages on Monday, Yocheved Lifsic and Nurit Kuper, after freeing mother and daughter Judith and Nathalie Ra'anan last week. But hundreds remain captive after the militants' terror attack in southern Israel left up to 1,400 dead.

Ofri Bibas Levy shows a photo of her brother Yarden who was captured by Hamas


Responding to the news of the freed hostages he said: “It is psychological torture, to hear that they are freeing him and him.

“We want them all back and we want them all together.”

Ayelet Svatitzky's mother Channah Peri, 79, and brother Nadav Popplewell, 51, were captured by the militants and has not been heard from since their arrest 18 days ago.

Ms Svatitzky, whose brother Roi, 54, was killed in the attack, said her “life stopped” when she learned what was happening in Israel.

Hamas sent her images of her mother “still in her nightgown” next to her brother on the sofa. The word “Hamas” was written underneath. The destruction of her family has left her “torn apart,” she said.

Ms Svatitzky said: “Eighteen days later my brother's body has still not been officially identified. I am 46 years old and my life is now worried about my diabetic mother and my brother.

“I hunt down dental records and x-rays and they ask me if my other brother had any scars or tattoos. They are trying to identify him so we can bury him.”

He added: “This has been my life for the last 18 days now. When people say “today is Monday or Tuesday”, it's not about me. Now I count the numbers and not what day it is – today is the 18th day.

“This is not a political issue, this is a human crisis and we demand the return of our loved ones so we can begin to heal the trauma.”

She said she doesn't know if her mother, who has diabetes, takes insulin or if she can survive without the injections.

“I'm clinging to the hope that my mother knows how much I love her, I never got the chance to tell her,” he said.

Family member of British-Israeli kidnapping victims Ayelet Svatitzky reacts during press conference


David Barr has described the harrowing moment his sister-in-law Naomi, 53, was killed as she went for her regular morning run.

“It took four days to determine what we call the ‘southern smile of Israel.' He was a dental assistant. She just went for a run in her kibbutz. He was shot in the back and head at close range,” he said.

A tearful Mr Barr added that his life had been “turned upside down by death, hate and bad people, monsters”.

Mr Bar, who is originally from Leeds, is a teacher at a kibbutz in Israel and said three pupils at his school were still missing.

He also said he was concerned about Jews living “in fear” in the UK. “As a British citizen myself – and I love this country – this is not the country I know. Things have changed,” he said.

“I'm not just worried about my new family [in Israel]I am worried about my Jewish community here in the UK.

“They live in fear. I'm not just worried about them, I'm worried about everyone here.”

Responding to Monday's hostage release, he said: “Are they releasing two people as if to show the world how compassionate they are?”

It comes as a vigil was held in Parliament Square, London, to mourn the children killed in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

People take part in a vigil organized by Medical Aid for Palestinians in Parliament Square, central London


About 60 people gathered for the event on Tuesday, which was organized by the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

Each person who attended the vigil had the name of a Palestinian child killed in the conflict written on their palm.

This mirrors the actions of children in Gaza who have taken to writing their names on their hands as a means of identifying their bodies, should they be killed in the attacks.

Melanie Ward, chief executive of MAP, said after the vigil: “What is happening is unacceptable, it is very clear that it is not being done in accordance with international law and the world, the British government and the Israelis have a responsibility to protect the children of Gaza . , and it's clear that the only way to do that is to have a ceasefire now.”