WorldIsrael at War


Family member of 3 released Hamas hostages speaks out 

Scripps News talks to a family in Texas who says their cousin was just released after being in captivity with her young daughters for about 50 days.
Posted at 8:58 PM, Nov 26, 2023

As the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continues, we are learning more stories about the hostages released so far out of the 50 promised.

A reunion one Israeli father has been waiting for ever since his family was taken hostage by Hamas during the terror attacks on Oct. 7.

Schneider Children's Medical Center released images showing Yoni Asher hugging his children, 2-year-old Aviv and 4-year-old Raz, and his wife Doron.

Yoni is heard asking his daughters if they missed him and telling them that they will be going home.

The three were part of the initial group of 24 hostages that were released on Friday, 13 of whom were Israelis.

Scripps News spoke to Chen Dori Roberts remotely from Austin, Texas; he's a cousin of Doron Katz Asher, the woman Hamas kidnapped along with her daughters, all three of whom were released much to their family's relief.

"This is a very exciting moment; we received three of our family members yesterday,” said Roberts. "They were brought there by military helicopter from the border after a vetting process and had medical examinations throughout the night, for both the kids and adults."

Held since the initial attack, Asher and her daughters are among the first group of some 50 hostages to be released by Hamas; in turn, Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners. Asher's husband posted a message of thanks on social media.

"I am happy that I received my family back; I'm allowed to feel joy, and it's okay to shed a tear. That's a human thing. But I am not celebrating; I will not celebrate until the last of the hostages returns,” said Asher.

Roberts agrees with that sentiment and says that even though his family has been freed, the whole experience was traumatic and not easy to overcome.

“We're talking about a 2.5- and a four-year-old kids, and their mother, who saw with their own eyes, her mother, my aunt, being murdered on their way to Gaza. So it's a very traumatic, very complex situation to overcome,” said Roberts.

Roberts says Hamas militants shot and killed his aunt, Efrat Katz, on the day of the attack, which also happened to be a Jewish holiday called Simcha Torah. They also took her partner and another cousin hostage after militants assaulted their kibbutz in Nir Oz.

"We still have two members of our family, Gadi Moizes is still captive; his ex-wife was released yesterday with the first group; but we still have a half cousin, Ravid Katz, who is 51 years old who was part of the emergency team response, who is still held captive, still held hostage in this ordeal,” said Roberts.

The ceasefire is currently in effect, as agreed upon temporarily. The terms include exchanging hostages for prisoners and ensuring access to humanitarian aid. The possibility of extension exists, contingent on Hamas releasing more individuals.

Roberts says the immediate focus is making sure his newly freed family members have time to recover.

"Sometimes you need a little bit more of that privacy and that protection to be able to reunite, take a deep breath, and know that you're back home and you are safe,” said Roberts.

He also says he's praying for a safe return for all and peace between Israelis and Palestinians.