A freed Israeli hostage recalls the horrors of captivity and fears for her husband, who is still detained in Gaza.
KIBUTZ NIR OZ, Israel (AP) — She stands amid the ruins of her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, Israel Nir Oz In a farming village on the Gaza border, Sharon Aloni Kunio stared at the horizon Khan Younes, the Palestinian city to which Hamas militants dragged them more than three months ago. Surviving are her husband, David A prisoner in Gaza.
It is kilometers away but completely out of reach.
Kunio and her 3-year-old twins Released From Gaza on November 27. They are healthy and physically safe. But she can’t stop thinking about her husband’s last words to her. He was thin and weak, with an injured leg, as the family embraced for the last time in captivity.
“Fight for me. Don’t give up,” she told her. Please scream what I can’t scream. “I’m so scared.”
David Cuneo is among dozens of prisoners believed to be alive in Gaza after 120 hostages, including his wife and daughters, were released during a military operation. Ceasefire for a week.
As the days passed, punctuated by reports of other hostages dying in captivity, those who were released increasingly spoke of the conditions they endured. As the plight of the remaining hostages captures the nation’s attention, those who survive hope to pressure the government to do so Reach another deal.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Sharon described Hamas attack Most of her time in captivity, she said, was spent in the hospital – Strengthening Israel’s allegations that Hamas misused protected medical sites for military purposes.
Her daughters, Emma and Julie, still do not understand what happened to them after Hamas militants invaded southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping 250. The Hamas attack led to Violent Israeli attack On the Gaza Strip.
In captivity, the girls were told that the almost constant sounds of bombing were thunderstorms and that the gunmen guarding their door were their protectors. Now, when it rains in Yavneh, the city in central Israel, where the three live with Sharon’s parents, the girls ask: “Mom, where are the explosion booms?”
On the morning of the attack launched by Hamas fighters, the family cowered in their secure, fortified room. David Cuneo slammed the door on the intruders, but they eventually fired gas and set the house on fire, his wife said.
David grabbed Julie and ran out the window. Sharon said she began to lose consciousness, and her sister shook her and said, “Let’s open the window and get out. It’s better if they shoot us. Then there will be no pain and suffering.”
But the gunmen did not shoot at them. They dragged them and four others to Gaza on a stolen tractor.
The family had lost one of the twins, Emma was gone, and they feared it was forever.
Sharon said that she, David and Julie spent ten days in a Palestinian house under the guard of two armed men. On the ninth day, the neighboring house was bombed. As the walls collapsed around them, David and Sharon climbed to the top of Julie. The glass pierced Sharon’s scalp.
The kidnappers quickly transported the family. Sharon said that the gunmen covered her husband with a sheet until he looked like a corpse and dressed her in traditional Arab clothes. They put the family in an ambulance and took them to a hospital that Sharon now knew from the news as Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis.
Three days later, Sharon said, she heard crying outside her room. It was Emma.
“This guy just handed me Emma, like it was a box or something. And she said, ‘I was shocked.’ “She was terrified and crying. “I couldn’t believe they brought it back.”
They spent the weeks in a room on the first floor of the hospital. Sharon said stacked boxes separated the hostage section from the rest of the floor. She described sleeping with the girls on a small bed, using a blood-stained pillow. At one point, she said, there were 12 hostages crowded into the room. They learned that there were two additional rooms for prisoners nearby, approximately 30 in total.
The Israeli army was criticized internationally for its forced evictions and closure of more than half of Gaza’s hospitals during its offensive, leaving the medical system abandoned. Near collapse. Israel has risen again and again She accused Hamas Storing weapons and hiding hostages in hospitals in an attempt to justify military operations in those facilities.
Cuneo said that some of the prisoners received medical treatment from hospital workers. When someone in her room got sick, she said, they were taken away and brought back with an IV. She added that one of the hostages underwent surgery on his leg.
Food did not come on a regular schedule, but most days the kidnappers would prepare two meals. Sharon described spicy rice topped with meat, and moldy pita bread often topped with feta cheese. Cuneo lost 11 kilograms (24 pounds) and said they experienced vomiting and diarrhea at least once.
“Often, the girls would cry and say, ‘I’m hungry.’ It was devastating,” she said.
In the last week of captivity, the gunmen transferred the hostages to an outside room with a window. Cuneo said she saw rows of displaced Palestinians camping around the hospital.
Sharon said David, an electrician born and raised in Nir Oz, blamed himself — the reason the family lived near the Gaza border. Sharon said that he once beat himself until he bled inside his mouth. Other times, he manages to be a little lighthearted.
Sharon said: “I will tell him: You are the best man I have ever known.” “He said, ‘It’s time to find out.’
Sharon said that one day, David was pulled from the room to speak with a Hamas officer who told him that Israel had decided to return only women and children.
“We sat there for three hours, just hugging each other. Me, him and the girls,” Kunio said. “The girls are crying. ‘Why are you leaving? Why are they taking Daddy?
Three days later, Red Cross vehicles returned Kunio and the girls to Israel.
Now, Sharon said she won’t be able to sleep through the night until David comes home.
“Everything is full of blame. Showering, eating hot food, smoking a cigarette, playing with our girls, being outside when he’s in the tunnels,” she said.
On Monday, Sharon toured Kibbutz Nir Oz for the second time since her release. Neighbors collected their belongings from the looted homes.
Sharon said the family would not return to the kibbutz, whose flowery paths and orange orchards now give way to homes scarred by bullet holes.
Sharon sends the girls to preschool every day, hugs them at night, and comforts them during their nightmares.
When she gets a moment to herself, she turns to her husband’s voicemail archive. “I love you, you’re the best,” he says.
“I promised him I would fight for him,” Sharon said. “I won’t stop until he comes back.”