Freed Israeli hostage, 84, fights for life in hospital as daughter slams Red Cross

Elma Avraham would have died if released a minute later, hospital staff have said

Uri Rawitz, right, and his sister Tali Amano speak of their mother's condition. Getty Images
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An elderly woman released by Hamas on Sunday is fighting for her life in an Israeli hospital, doctors have said, as relatives question medical care given to hostages freed from Gaza.

Elma Avraham, from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, is in a critical condition due to "severe neglect" during her time in captivity, said Shlomi Codish, director of the Soroka Hospital in the southern city of Beersheba.

Ms Avraham is sedated and breathing with the support of a ventilator, doctors said from the hospital, which has been treating all elderly women released by Hamas in recent days.

She was flown there from Gaza on Sunday night as her internal temperature dropped, and was semi-conscious on arrival.

The Israeli military has referred to her case as officials push to secure the release of more hostages from the enclave, some of whom are being held by militant factions other than Hamas.

"Elma is 84 years old, she is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother," military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a nightly briefing.

"She was kept in a harsh condition, denied life-saving medication. She was not visited by the Red Cross."

"Elma is a reminder of our critical mission. Now she is home and being taken care of. But who is taking care of the other hostages in Gaza?"

Israel has repeatedly urged the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is co-ordinating the transfer of hostages into Israel, to visit those still held in Gaza.

Ms Avraham's daughter has criticised the organisation over her mother's condition.

"My mother didn't need to return this way," Tali Amano told reporters in Beersheba.

"She was abandoned twice, once on October 7 and a second time by all the organisations that should have saved her and prevented her condition."

Ms Amano and her brother Uri Rawitz said they had tried to give Red Cross representatives the medication required by their mother, but were told it could not be passed on.

"We have been meeting directly with families and they have urged us to take possession of personal medications but we're not able to take them," a representative for the ICRC told Reuters on Monday night.

"We continue calling for access to the hostages, as we've done from day one, and we are ready to carry out those visits."

Ms Amano was not satisfied: "We need to yell at the Red Cross. Why are they there if they don’t do anything?”

Seventy-five hostages have been released during a four-day truce, since extended by another two days after Qatari, US and Egyptian mediation.

Two elderly women, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79, were among several hostages released by Hamas in late October.

Ms Lifshitz, whose husband is still in captivity, later described a "spider's web" network of tunnels in which she was held.

Israel has released 150 Palestinian detainees in exchange, most of whom are women and children.

An estimated 20 more hostages will be released in the coming two days.

Updated: November 28, 2023, 4:43 AM