WorldIsrael at War


She escaped Hamas on Oct. 7. Now she's fighting to rescue her dad

Ella Ben Ami's mother was released in late November, but her 55-year-old father is still held hostage in Gaza.
Posted at 4:27 PM, Dec 20, 2023

Like a good dad, Ohad Ben Ami has always known precisely how to make his three daughters laugh.

But now, the 55-year-old German-Israeli man is among the more than 100 hostages still believed to be held in Gaza, and his daughters are running to the ends of the Earth to bring him home.

Ella Ben Ami

"I really miss the smile that he was the only one who managed to put on my face," Ella Ben Ami told Scripps News, adding that her dad is the funniest person she knows and that he gives the best advice.

"I hear his voice in my mind all the time, telling me what to do next, how to keep the fight to bring him home," Ella Ben Ami said.

Ella survived the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 by hiding inside a safe room for 15 hours while terrorists murdered dozens of friends and neighbors in Kibbutz Be'eri and kidnapped both her parents.

"My kibbutz was burned to the ground. A lot of bodies on the floor, body parts all over the place. It was terrifying," she recalled.

But for now, the 23-year-old Israeli says she is setting aside her trauma to support her 57-year-old mother, Raz Ben Ami, who was released by Hamas late last month.

Ella Ben Ami

"It was the best feeling ever," Ella recalls, "to see her face and see her smiling again and hug her and to feel her warmth again. I mean, it's my mom. Mom is everything in this world."

After hugging her daughters, Raz Ben Ami realized her husband was missing.

"She just took the poster of my dad, and she just started to walk with this around the hospital and tell people about dad, urging everyone to bring him home," Ella said.

Though Raz Ben Ami recently released a video statement about the humiliation she faced while in captivity, she has shared very few details with her own daughter.

"The fact that she can't talk with me over the experience she went through, it makes me so sad," Ella said, adding that being there for her mother is now "her job."

For now, the job Ella never wanted continues, but she says she feels like it's the most important one she'll ever have, in helping her mother heal and bringing her father home.