Music Fest Survivor talks about her horrific 54-day Hamas captivity in Gaza

At one point, Ms. Yanai was detained with another woman.

Moran Stella Yanai had a harrowing experience during her 54-day captivity in Gaza. In a recent interview, the 40-year-old jewelry designer told how she tried to hide in a potato field when Hamas gunmen invaded the venue of Israel's Nova music festival near the Gaza border on October 7 last year.

Ms Yanai had been caught by them twice before, but managed to convince them that she was Arab and not Jewish. During her third encounter, however, her captors were different. “They didn't talk, they just grabbed me,” she said BBCas they recalled how they “started throwing me from one to the other and putting me in the car.”

She also revealed that “two terrorists in the front, four in the back seat, and three more in the back seat [boot]and just me on top of everyone.”

As Ms. Yanai crossed the Gaza border, she glimpsed the crowd on the other side of the fence, including “happy” women, children and men. “It was like a bull entering a huge arena,” she explained.

The car stopped abruptly and Ms. Yanai felt someone pulling her leg. At that moment she prayed for a speedy end. She said: “All you can think at that moment is: please let it end quickly. One blow to the head and I feel nothing. If it happens, do it quickly.”

But she later discovered that the group that held her had sold her to Hamas, marking the beginning of 54 days of captivity for her. During that time, she was moved to seven different locations, quickly adapting to different survival strategies. “You really have to protect your story,” she explained to the BBC. “What happens in the first house stays there and does not go to the second house [or] the third house.”

At one point, Ms. Yanai was held with another woman, an 18-year-old who was taken while barefoot and in her pajamas. Ms Yanai overheard their captors discussing who would marry the woman and recalled a disturbing incident when their captors brought in the younger woman's mother and asked for permission to marry her daughter. This 18-year-old woman is believed to be Noga Weiss, who recently recounted her 50-day captivity in Gaza.

Ms. Yanai said that she herself was not sexually abused during her captivity, but that she heard from other female hostages that they had been raped in Gaza.

Describing the disturbing process of being 'examined' when moving between houses, she said: 'It's a 'really necessary test', as they explain to you.' She said: “I always try to explain to people that 'rape' is a very big word. It's not just about the act. Even if there's a man at your door and you're sitting, and he's staring at you 10 minutes behind each other, five to six times a day, every day, for 54 days.

She told how one day she and the other hostages had to play cards with their captors to try to get something to eat because they were “so hungry.” Mrs. Yanai tried to make them laugh with jokes. But one kidnapper became angry and pointed a gun at her head and threatened to kill her.

Moran Stella Yanai was released on November 29 after 54 days as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement facilitated by Qatar and the United States between Hamas and Israel.

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