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Freed Hostage Describes Horrors of Captivity: ‘They Told Us Israel Doesn’t Want Us’

March 14, 2024

by: Ynetnews

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Israelis pen messages of hope for the quick release of the hostages.

Thursday, 14 March 2024 | The Shalva gala held in New York City last week witnessed a stirring display of emotional resilience and hope as Yoav Engel, father of Ofir Engel, who endured 54 days in captivity after being kidnapped to Gaza, made a poignant appearance.

Shalva is a non-profit organization established to support and empower individuals with disabilities and their families in Israel. The “Color Our World with Hope” 34th Anniversary Dinner was held at Gotham Hall in Midtown Manhattan and was attended by 500 people who support the organization.

Yoav, also the manager of the Shalva sports center, expressed profound gratitude, acknowledging the unwavering support of Shalva’s community during his son’s ordeal. “Without the wonderful people of Shalva who stood by me the whole time my son was in Gaza, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said.

Standing beside his father, Ofir recounted the harrowing experience, shedding light on the challenges faced during captivity. “They told us that they don’t want us in Israel, that the families don’t want us and that we won’t be back even in another year,” he said.

Engel, a resident of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, was at his girlfriend Ofir’s home in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7.  He described his abduction together with Ofir’s father, Yossi, expressing the sheer terror he experienced. Reflecting on his ordeal in Hamas captivity, he shared the physical and emotional toll it took, including the heart-wrenching loss of Yossi, who was murdered in captivity.

Yoav’s poignant message resonated deeply, as he urged the event’s attendees to hold on to hope for a brighter tomorrow. “We need to believe that anything is possible and to never give up hope for a bright future,” he said.

The Engel family was presented with the Spirit of Hope Award by Shalva’s CEO Yochanan Samuels.

Posted on March 14, 2024

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on March 13, 2024. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Lizzy Shaanan Pikiwiki Israel/

Source: Wikimedia