8 Jun 2024

‘My mum deserves to know the fate of her husband’, says daughter of missing Israeli hostage

Social Affairs Editor and Presenter

I spoke to Sharone Lifschitz in Tel Aviv.

Her elderly parents were both taken hostage on October the 7th. Her mother was freed later that month, but her father is still missing.

I began by asking for her reaction to the rescue of the hostages.

Sharone Lifschitz: I feel very, very happy for them, for their families, for the hostages themselves to come out of it. We have become a real family of the hostage family. And so these are people that we know and we’re very, very delighted for them.

Jackie Long: And what does it do for you and the rest of your family, because you have been waiting for news of your father Oded for eight months now? Does a moment like this give you some hope?

Sharone Lifschitz: To be honest, I think these are very dangerous and rare operations. The vast majority of hostages came back with a deal. I don’t feel that we can return all of them via military operations. There’s a deal on the table at the moment, and we have to accept it to make sure everybody that is still alive come back.

Jackie Long: There’s obviously joy and relief at the release of these hostages, but we know at the same time that scores of people, women and children included, have been killed, and I just wonder what you feel about that?

Sharone Lifschitz: I feel that always when civilians get caught in a situation which is horrendous. I think that Hamas is to blame for this impossible situation. Hamas is holding hostages among civilians, is holding its military operations among civilians. It needs to come to a deal.

The Israeli government must agree to the deal so that this horrendous ongoing situation can be over. Civilians on both sides are being held ransom to a very right-wing, militant organisation and government, and that is the cause of a lot of deaths, there’s no doubt about it.

Jackie Long: So as someone who is desperate for news, desperate for the return of your father, give us a sense of what it is like for you and other families at the moment.

Sharone Lifschitz: This week we also heard about the death of four hostages, one of them a British citizen, Nadav Popplewell, that lost their life somewhere in January. These are people, three of them are from my kibbutz, there were 80 and above. They have survived for months in this horrendous situation. We are sitting the Shiva for them now. I can’t tell you how broken our heart is. It’s not possible to break any more, we always think, and then it does break into smaller, smaller shreds.

Jackie Long: And just finally, if you don’t mind me asking. Your mother was released relatively early. This is enormously difficult for all of you. She’s in her 80s. She was held hostage for over two weeks. How is she doing?

Sharone Lifschitz: My mum deserves to know the fate of her husband after eight months. We know he was alive and she’s waiting for him. But with time that goes on, the chance of an 84-year-old man to survive diminishes by the day. And the light is escaping from our eyes, the chance that he will come back home to us. I think that he’s a man who’s done a lot in his life for other people, and he does not deserve to be taken hostage and treated in this way.