These Videos of Released Hostages Reuniting with Their Families Go Beyond Words – Kveller
Skip to Content Skip to Footer


These Videos of Released Hostages Reuniting with Their Families Go Beyond Words

We can't stop watching these emotional embraces.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL-NOVEMBER 24:A photo of Ohad Munder, 9, projected on the building of The Tel Aviv Museum of Art following his release from captivity in Gaza with his mother Keren Munder and grandmother Ruth on November 24,2023. They were kidnapped from her Nir Oz home. Her husband, Said (David) Moshe, was murdered. They were taken hostage by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

via Heidi Levine for The Washington Post via Getty Images

I’ve been watching them, again and again and again. The videos of children embracing their parents for the first time in over a month, as they get released from captivity in Gaza thanks to the ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel — making their ways in Red Cross vehicles back to shores of safety, getting that embrace they’ve been waiting for since that dreadful October 7. I wipe the tears from my eyes and click again for another replay.

I have complicated feelings about these videos. More than anything, I have wanted for these families to heal in privacy and peace, and I feel sometimes uncomfortable that we are all infringing on these intimate moments. Yet these are monumental reunifications, ones that are probably important for these families to have immortalized. They’re also a reminder of the incredible joy and impossible pain of this moment. Not only are these families missing other loved ones still held captive in Gaza — fathers and grandfathers — but there are so many families that will never be together again because of this war. Meanwhile, those who are back are forever changed. In the small, lovely faces of the dozens of children who are now back home, you can clearly see the ghosts of the terror they went through in captivity.

And yet, it is worth it to celebrate these moments that have come in no small part to the relentless fight from the families of those taken.

Yoni Asher was reunited with his wife Doron and daughters Raz, 4, and Aviv, 2, last Friday, as part of the first group of hostages released. A video of them reuniting in the hospital was shared, with Yoni squeezing his three loved ones tight, little Raz on one knee and Aviv being held by her mother. “Chaim sheli,” he says, “my life,” then asks, “Did you miss me, did you think of me? Did you think good thoughts about me?”

“All the time,” Doron sweetly answers as little Raz nods along.

“I dreamt that we went back home,” Raz tells her father in the video.

“And here the dream is about to be true, we’re going to be home soon,” he tells her.

The woman sitting in front of Doron strokes her hair, and you see her crying for a minute, her mask of resilience breaking into a mix of despair and intense relief.

Maayan Zin was finally reunited with her daughters on Sunday. Zin has been fighting tirelessly to be reunited with them, after they were captured from their father’s home in Nir Oz, where he was killed along with his girlfriend and her son on October 7. She even begged Israeli leaders to send her to Gaza to be with them, if they couldn’t ensure the girls’ release. The things she says to her two girls, Dafna, 15, and Ela, 8, are impossibly moving to me, because it’s exactly how I talk to my own sons in Hebrew. She takes on that mom voice, the one that’s resilient and sweet for her children, so that they know they have a mom to lean on when they need to break down.

“Shalom yafot sheli,” she greets them melodically, meaning “hello my beautiful [girls].” “Dafna shel ima” — “Mommy’s Dafna,” she greets her oldest, hugging her tightly. “Eize metukot aten,” she says, meaning “how sweet you are,” then adds, “ani ohevet et shteichen aval mamash”  — “I love the both of you so much.”

The reunification of the Avigdori family on Saturday is another video that I’ve watched over and over and over through tears. The love in this family is so palpable and special.

Chen Avigdori, a TV writer who is usually more comfortable with his role behind the scenes, has been taking the microphone over  and showing his face on camera in the last month of fighting for this moment, since half of his nuclear family who were visiting family in Be’eri were captured. In this latest video, he is there with his teenage son, Omer, who stayed home with his father that Saturday, as they reunite with the love of his life and his daughter.

“How I missed you,” he tells his daughter who is wailing with tears, then he hugs his wife, Sharon. It’s such a moment of love, and of heartbreak and relief. You can see him breaking down after all these weeks of steely fighting, letting himself feel the pain and leaning on the woman he promised to spend the rest of his life with.

A lot of children have been finding comfort in being reunited with their pets — so much so that the hospitals have let the families bring the family dogs into the hospitals. This video of the kids of the Brodetz family — Oriya, Yuval and Ofri — reuniting with their dog Rodney is too precious for words. The kids were captured with their mother, Hagar, who also returned with them. Their father, Avichai, started sitting outside Israel’s military headquarters in the Kirya in Tel Aviv with a sign reading, “My family is in Gaza,” early after October 7, as a way to draw attention to his grief and fight for the return of his loved ones.

There are no videos of Avigail, the 4-year-old American girl who lost her parents on October 7,  but this photo of her smiling with her uncle and aunt definitely make my heart feel a little less heavy.

The precocious Ohad Munder-Zichri, who got special attention from so many after he turned 9 while in captivity — including from “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander — finally got to hug his father. He ran into his arms, while his mother, Keren, ran into the arms of his older half-brother, Roy. His grandmother Ruti also got a hug from a loved one.


Natthaphon Onkaew, Khomkrit Chombua, Anucha Angkaew and Manee Jirachat, four Thai nationals who were released on Sunday night, also got a pretty emotional welcome at Shamir hospital, where the workers greeted them with “hello” in Thai.

Some videos feel more fraught, as the details of what the kids who were alone in captivity went through come to the fore. Nine-year-old Emily Hand, an Irish-Israeli girl who was captured during a sleepover at her friend’s house — and whose father’s ex-wife, Narkis, a mother figure to her in Nir Oz, was killed — came back whispering, as she said Hamas threatened kids who made noise. Emily, who was initially believed to have been killed during the attack, hugged her father while her friend, Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, hugged her uncle. Hila’s mother, Raya, who the girls spent their in captivity with, is still being held in Gaza.

In a video in which an emotional and red-faced Tom Hand is reunited with his daughter (“It was beautiful, just like I imagined it, running together,” he later told CNN), you can hear Hila’s uncle tell the teen, “Eize gibora” — “what a hero you are.”

The stories coming out of captivity have been too hard to bear, and these children have a lot of recovery left ahead of them. Still, this is also a moment of celebration, as this video of Hadas Kalderon, getting the news that she would be reunited with her son Erez, 12, and daughter Sahar, 16, attests. “There is a God!” she yells in a crowded mall, while hooting, “Erez and Sahar are on the list.”

All we can hope is that this moment is felt by many more, as the ceasefire extends.

Skip to Banner / Top Skip to Content