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Hila Rotem-Shoshani

12

Hila Rotem-Shoshani, a remarkable and mature young girl from Kibbutz Be'eri, embodies resilience and courage. Described by her father, Rami, as a gift, she encompasses all the finest qualities - beauty, gentleness, and grace. Tragically, Hila's normal life was abruptly interrupted on October 7th when she, along with her mother Raaya and her nine-year-old friend Emily Hand, were kidnapped from the safety of their home. In a harrowing recount of that fateful day, Hila shared the chilling moments leading to their capture, highlighting the terrifying ordeal of being awakened by missile sounds, seeking refuge in a safe room, and eventually being kidnapped by terrorists and taken in a truck, packed with other women and children, into Gaza.
"Emily and I were sure they would kill us; we didn’t even know that kidnapping was an option. Emily didn’t understand what was happening," Hila shares. "I told her 'they are taking us,' but I thought there was a lot of army. When I went out I realized there was no army, there was no one. We saw dead bodies and burned houses."
During her captivity, Hila, along with her mother and Emily, experienced harrowing conditions — enduring hunger, thirst, and fear in a dark, dirty environment. Despite these challenges, Raaya's maternal instinct ensured the girls' survival, providing care and comfort even when resources were scarce. Hila's reflections on her time in captivity reveal a poignant mixture of fear, hope, and the struggle to find normalcy in playing cards and dreaming of home.
Hila shared her thoughts during captivity: “I kept telling myself, if it's hard for me, it must be harder for her (Raaya, the mother). She made sure we ate, helped us with showers, hugged when we were sad. I didn't really understand what it meant to be kidnapped. I didn't know there was an option to be released. I thought it was going to be forever.”
Amidst this despair, Hila found moments of solace through the radio, learning about the massive demonstrations in Tel Aviv by families of the hostages and their supporters, which offered a glimmer of hope in their dire situation. After enduring 50 days in Hamas captivity, Hila was released as part of a ceasefire agreement, sadly, without her mother initially.
Hila was fortunate to return to her country just in time for her 13th birthday. Hila and Emily celebrated a joint birthday, after Emily had to spend hers in captivity. For this special occasion, singer Eliad Nahum and confectioner Or Shpitz came alongside close family to the hospital to celebrate with the birthday girls. Conspicuously absent was Hila’s mother, whom the Hamas terrorist organization cruelly and shockingly left behind.
The ordeal shed light on the cruel separation of families by Hamas, contradicting agreements and igniting fear and uncertainty among the victims and their families.
Ra'aya was finally released four days later, and the two were reunited with their family.
Today, Hila advocates for the release of all hostages, taking her message to the global stage, including a significant event in the UN, New York, marking a pivotal moment in her journey from captivity to championing freedom and reunion with loved ones.

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