A British-Israeli woman whose mother was held hostage by Hamas has told the Mail on Sunday how she had to break the heart-breaking news to her that one of her sons had been murdered by the terrorists.
Ayelet Svatitzky, 46, was overcome with relief after Channah Peri was freed by Hamas during the seven-day ceasefire last month. Her British-born brother Nadav Popplewell, 51, is still being held along with 160 others.
But Mrs Svatitzky said her reunion with her mother was bittersweet, adding: ‘On the one hand it’s a huge relief and she is doing as well as can be expected given the ordeal she went through for seven weeks.
‘We are delighted that she is home, but our thoughts are with Nadav who is still in Gaza and with all the others being held and who must be freed as soon as possible.
Ayelet Svatitzky, 46, (pictured) was overcome with relief after her mother was freed by Hamas during the seven-day ceasefire last month
Terrorists burst into the family’s home at kibbutz Nirim – just 1.5 miles from the border with Gaza – on October 7, and snatched Channah Peri and Nadav Popplewell. Pictured: Nadav and Channah in their living room with armed guards
Mrs Svatitzky said her reunion with her mother was bittersweet. Pictured: Channah Peri
‘My mother had no idea that my elder brother Roi had been murdered – when she as freed and crossed into Israel, she called me and asked after him, what could I do?
‘I told her as gently as I could that, that somethings I could only say in person and not on the telephone and I think she knew what I meant.
‘She prepared herself for what I was about to tell her when we eventually met and when I did tell her she was obviously completely devastated.’
Terrorists burst into the family’s home at kibbutz Nirim – just 1.5 miles from the border with Gaza – on October 7, and snatched Mrs Peri and Nadav, who lived next door.
Hours later the family was horrified when evil Hamas took pictures of Mrs Peri and her son – with an armed man in the foreground – and sent them to everyone listed on their phone.
That was the final contact they had until November 24 when Mrs Peri was freed in the first group of hostages, taken to hospital in Israel.
Mrs Svatitzky, who grew up in West Yorkshire, said: ‘My mother and brother were held together in tunnels deep underground, and they slept on thin mattresses but had very little food and no medication.’
When her mother was told she would finally be freed, Mrs Svatitzky said she ‘hung on to my brother, she didn’t want to leave him alone. She was scared at what might happen.
‘They swapped a few words and a hug and then she was taken away – she genuinely thought he would be freed a couple of days later.’
Three days after she was released, Mrs Peri was able to visit the grave of her murdered son Roi.
Mrs Svatitzky said: ‘It’s just more trauma on top of multiple later of trauma. One son has been murdered and one son has been kidnapped. My mother is very strong and has amazing willpower, and we are all taking an active role in her rehabilitation.
Ayelet Svatitzky holds an image of her mother Channah Peri and British-born brother Nadav Popplewell, who is still being held by Hamas
‘It’s baby steps at the moment…She was held captive for 49 days, she is 79 years old and was fully independent prior to October 7, the only things she didn’t do was drive because of her diabetes.
‘But now she must stay with us, and she has lost 10 per cent of her body weight and her muscles have wasted away.
‘She will need medication and physiotherapy and that’s just the physical aspect, she also has to get over the emotional and mental aspect of the horrific experience she endured.
‘She has talked a little of how she as kept but because of security reasons I can’t go into too much detail, as there are hostages still in Gaza, my brother included, and we don’t want to jeopardise anything.’