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Reporter’s Notebook: Couple survives being held hostage for 20 hours by Hamas militants

ABC News’ James Longman reports from Israel.

October 10, 2023, 12:49 PM

Israel — Rachel and David are a couple in their 60s and were held hostage for 20 hours in their own home in Ofakim, a city in war-torn Israel, by Hamas militants following the deadly incursion where at least 900 people have died, and 2,600 others have been injured in Israel, according to Israeli officials.

We have just toured their house — their walls and floors are covered in blood from the operation to free them. It was their son Evi, a policeman, who was involved in their rescue.

Rachel and David were held hostage in their home by Hamas militants and their son was involved in their rescue.

James Longman/ABC News

Evi described a standoff that had him standing in the doorway holding his pistol aimed at the head of one of the militants, as the man held his arm around his mother’s neck, with a grenade in his other hand. She signaled to her son with her five fingers spread over her face to tell him there were five hostage takers in her home.

Eventually, a SWAT team convinced Evi to retreat, and they took over the rescue. Rachel and David said they survived their 20-hour ordeal using their wits. Rachel said she cooked for her captors, keeping them occupied with coffee and cookies while hell raged all around them.

PHOTO: Rachel and David, right, were held hostage in their home by Hamas militants and their son was involved in their rescue.

Rachel and David, right, were held hostage in their home by Hamas militants and their son was involved in their rescue.

James Longman/ABC News

Evi takes me to meet them. Rachel is beaming – smiling because she’s free, but also perhaps avoiding the trauma and shock of what she’s been through.

“I made them chicken! Offered them coffee. I knew that if they are hungry, they are angry,” Rachel says as husband David looks on.

When the SWAT team stormed in, David says he jumped over his wife to protect her. She says 40 years of marriage was saved by his act of heroism too.

All this is in Ofakim – some 25km from Gaza.

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