A mother and daughter who were held captive by Hamas in Gaza for more than a month expressed their gratitude to their captors for treating them well.
Danielle Aloni and her six-year-old daughter Emilia were among the 50 Israelis who were released last week as part of a prisoner swap deal with Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza. In exchange, Israel freed 150 Palestinian women and children from its jails.
In a letter dated November 23, a day before their release, Danielle wrote to the members of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, that her daughter felt “like a queen in Gaza” and that they were “like parents to her”.
“Thank you for the many hours you spent as caregivers,” she wrote. “Children should not be in captivity, but thanks to you and other kind people we met along the way, my daughter felt like a queen in Gaza.”
She also said that her daughter did not suffer any psychological trauma from the ordeal and that she wished they could be “truly good friends” in the future.
“I wish in this world we could truly be good friends,” she wrote. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your humanity and kindness to me and my daughter.”
The letter was published by the Al-Qassam Brigades on their website on Monday evening, and was widely circulated in the Arab and Middle Eastern media.
Danielle and Emilia were captured by Hamas on October 7, when the group launched a cross-border attack on Israel, sparking a massive military campaign by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli offensive has killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, including 6,150 children and more than 4,000 women, according to health authorities in Gaza.
The prisoner swap deal was part of a humanitarian pause in the fighting, which was extended for two more days on Monday.
Full text of the full letter, translated from Hebrew:
“To the generals who have accompanied me in recent weeks, it seems we will part ways tomorrow, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your extraordinary humanity shown towards my daughter, Emilia.
You were like parents to her, inviting her into your rooms whenever she desired. She acknowledges feeling like all of you are her friends, not just friends, but truly beloved and good.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the many hours you spent as caregivers. Thank you for being patient with her and showering her with sweets, fruits, and everything available even when it was not.
Children should not be in captivity, but thanks to you and other kind people we met along the way, my daughter felt like a queen in Gaza… In general, she acknowledges feeling like the center of the world. She hasn’t met anyone on our long journey, from the rank and file to the leadership, who didn’t treat her with gentleness, affection, and love.
I will forever be a prisoner of gratitude because she did not leave here with a lifelong psychological trauma. I will remember your kind behaviour, granted here despite the difficult situation you were dealing with yourselves and the severe losses you suffered here in Gaza.
I wish in this world we could truly be good friends.
I wish you all health and well-being… Health and love to you and your families’ children. Many thanks.
~ Danielle and Emilia”