Daughter of hostages says some Britons are 'almost celebrating' Hamas attacks and picking sides as if the war is a 'football game'

Monday 29 January 2024

A British-Israeli woman whose parents were taken hostage by Hamas said it “pains” her to see some Britons “almost celebrating” the October 7 attacks on Israel.

Sharone Lifschitz’s 85-year-old mother, Yocheved, was among the first hostages to be freed by the militant group in October, but her 83-year-old father, Oded, remains in captivity.

Gunmen shot at her parents’ safe room on Kibbutz Nir Oz, near the border with Gaza, leaving her father unconscious – while her mother was disconnected from her oxygen machine and dragged into the Strip on a motorbike.

The 52-year-old told the PA news agency: “I have lived in the UK for most of my life and all my adult life.

“I have never seen the situation this hostile and so often people think they need to pick a side like a football game… and decide these people are good and bad.

Sharone Lifschitz's parents Oded and Yocheved

Ms Lifschitz  with her mother Yocheved and her father Oded

Inside Ms Lifschitz's parents house after the Hamas attack

“You see young people and old people in the UK almost celebrating October 7, it pains me as a member of the community and it pains me as a human.

“I really do feel I am exasperated with people in the West. This one-sidedness, I don’t understand how people who believe in liberal values can support a murderous organisation.

“You never, never celebrate the pain of others.”

Ms Lifschitz, a London-based artist and academic, revealed that the tunnels where her father had been held captive have now been taken over by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), while her mother was released after suffering from a stomach bug.

Her only source of information on her father’s condition are Hamas videos and the accounts of hostages who came back.

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It was only when some 78 Israeli and dual national hostages were released in November, during a pause in fighting, that she knew her father had arrived in Gaza alive, she added.

He received basic medical care and was looking “everywhere” for his wife of 63 years.

She went on: “It is a really difficult moment. It is just so long, we are trying so hard to hold on and hold our energy, and continue advocating.

“At the same time, there is a growing realisation that not everybody would survive."

Meanwhile her mother is finding it harder and harder to go out and campaign for the release of other hostages.

She said: “She herself has lost so much, she has lost her husband at the moment. She doesn’t know if he is alive or dead, she is so worried about him."

Ms Lifschitz, whose parents were both peace activists, said she believes the Israeli government’s two stated objectives of bringing back the hostages and destroying Hamas are incompatible, and called for a diplomatic solution.

She said: “The UK must press on the Israeli government to make good by its wishes and accept any deal on the table.

“Our allies… should push for a long-term agreement and understand that the exchange of hostages will not happen without accepting… a deal that includes a long-term solution.

“Without that, the likelihood of seeing our loved ones back alive is very slim.

“At the end of the day, I want them of course to do more. I want my father back.”