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February 18, 2024

Freed Israeli hostage says she endured ‘psychological warfare’ during 50 days of Hamas captivity

After being held captive by the Hamas militant group for 50 days in the Gaza Strip, Avera Mengistu said that the experience was a psychological battle of "endless torture" for her. Mengistu, an Israeli citizen of Ethiopian descent, has not been seen publicly since her alleged capture at the border with Gaza in September 2014. Mengistu spoke to Israel's Channel 12 network about her experiences while in captivity, which included being subjected to harsh interrogation sessions, intimidation and emotional manipulation. She also said that during her captivity she was constantly subject to physical and psychological torture. Mengistu described how she was threatened during her captors that "if she ever tried to flee, she would be shot". “I felt like I was stuck on an animal trap and every motion in any direction, was impossible", Mengistu said in the emotional interview. Mengistu added that the experience of being a hostage was a "living hell" as she was denied basic necessities such as food and medical care. Furthermore, she said that the psychological warfare the captors subjected her to was excruciating. Mengistu did not share the details of her release, nor commented on the condition of her health after being released. She simply thanked the Israeli government for the incredible effort they put in for her safe return.