British daughter of Israeli 'peace activist' hostage freed by Hamas is 'relieved beyond words', but dad is still captive

24 October 2023, 07:03 | Updated: 24 October 2023, 07:20

Sharone Lifshitz is 'relieved beyond words' that her mother has been freed
Sharone Lifshitz is 'relieved beyond words' that her mother has been freed. Picture: Alamy/Handout

By Kit Heren

A British woman who is flying to Israel to meet her elderly mother after she was released from Hamas captivity has said her "relief" is beyond words.

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Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, two Israeli women, were released on grounds of poor health, Hamas said. Their husbands are still being held hostage.

Ms Cooper and Ms Lifshitz are the third and fourth hostages to be released by Hamas, after a mother and daughter were let out on Friday evening.

Ms Lifshitz's daughter Sharone, who lives in London, is flying to Israel to meet her mother.

"While I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those, some 200 innocent people, who remain hostages in Gaza," she said in a statement.

Sharone’s father, Oded Lifschitz, a veteran Israeli journalist, was captured by Hamas with along with his wife.

Their grandson said that the Lifschitzes were human rights activists who helped people from Gaza get medical treatment.

"They are human rights activists, peace activists for all their life," said Daniel Lifshitz.

"For more than a decade, they took... sick Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, not from the West Bank, from the Gaza Strip every week from the Erez border to the hospitals in Israel to get treatment for their disease, for cancer, for anything."

The pair were released and sent to a medical centre.
The pair were released and sent to a medical centre. Picture: Getty

A spokesperson from Israel's Prime Minister's Office issued a statement following the women's release on Monday night.

"The Special Envoy for Abducted and Missing Persons updated that today (Monday) Nurit Cooper (79) and Yocheved Lifshitz (85) were released from the hands of the terrorist organisation Hamas.

"The two were kidnapped during the murderous attack on Saturday (07.10.23) from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Amiram, the 85-year-old husband of Cooper, and Oded, the 83-year-old husband of Lifshitz, who were kidnapped along with them, are still being held by the cruel terrorist organization along with the other abductees, and we will continue to work in every way for their return.

"The IDF and the security forces have worked hard in the last few days in all channels to bring about their release and to overcome the many difficulties set by Hamas.

"After being handed over to the IDF forces, they are making their way at this time to a medical center in Israel that was specially organized and prepared to receive them.

"Their family members will be waiting for them there. We thank Egypt for its assistance, and the Red Cross for their important role as life savers. The Government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security establishment will continue to operate with the best of their abilities and efforts in order to locate all of the missing and return all of the abductees home."

Confirming the news earlier on Monday evening, the Red Cross said in a statement: “We facilitated the release of 2 more hostages, transporting them out of Gaza this evening.

“Our role as a neutral intermediary makes this work possible are we are ready to facilitate any future release.

“We hope that they will soon be back with their loved ones.”

Judith and Natalie Raanan were released on Friday.
Judith and Natalie Raanan were released on Friday. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Israel releases unedited bodycam footage of Hamas attacks to prove ‘magnitude of atrocities committed’

Read more: Sunak says Israel not to blame for missile that killed hundreds at a hospital - which was launched from inside Gaza

Hamas has been keeping more than 200 people in total hostage since its most recent conflict with Israel started earlier this month.

It comes after US President Joe Biden suggested he may be willing to support a ceasefire in Gaza if all hostages are released.

Asked whether he would support calling a ceasefire in exchange for hostages, he said: “We should have those hostages released and then we can talk.”

Mike Katz, Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, told LBC: “The first line of anything in this sanction has to be: bring these hostages home."

Judith and Natalie Raanan were also released by Hamas on Friday.
Judith and Natalie Raanan were also released by Hamas on Friday. Picture: Handout

“We are still talking about some British citizens, as well as Israeli citizens, who are somewhere in Gaza experiencing God knows what.

“I shudder to think if they are still alive. That has to be the first line before we actually talk about the long-term resolution which we obviously have to consider.”

It comes after American mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan were freed by Hamas on Friday after the group said it was letting them go for humanitarian reasons, as part of an agreement with the Qatari government, which has significant influence with the Palestinian group.

The Israeli armed forces said that they received the Raanans "at the border of the Gaza Strip" before taking them to a military base in central Israel, where they were set to be reunited with their family members.

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