Released Israeli hostage ‘escaped for four days’ before recapture in Gaza

Roni Krivoi was seen arriving at the Rafah border with Egypt as part of a hostage-prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel
Roni Krivoi arrives at the Rafah border with Egypt as part of a hostage-prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel - MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

An Israeli hostage freed this week under the ceasefire deal had earlier managed to escape Hamas for four days, his family said.

Roni Krivoi, 25, was seized after Hamas attacked the Re’im music festival, where he had been working as a sound engineer.

He was held in a residential building, but when fierce Israeli bombing caused the building to collapse, he took advantage of the chaos by forcing himself out of the rubble and fleeing.

It was the second time Mr Krivoi managed to escape the gunmen - on the day of the attack itself, he had run from the music festival and taken cover in a ditch. He was later caught and dragged to Gaza with the other hostages.

“Due to the bombings, the building collapsed and he managed to escape the rubble and break free,” Yelena Magid, his aunt, told Israeli media.

“He managed to escape and to hide out, alone, for four days. He tried to reach the border.”

But Mr Krivoi was unable to navigate the area and he was eventually retaken by his Palestinian captors.

“He tried getting to the border. He did not have the capacity to understand where he was and where he needed to go, so he could not navigate the open field. He was alone,” his aunt said. “In the end, the Gazans caught him and returned him to the terrorists’ hands.”

Roni Krivoi, who was seized at the Re'im music festival, fled captivity as Israel bombed where he was being held
Mr Krivoi, who was seized at the Re'im music festival, fled captivity as Israel bombed where he was being held - HOSTAGES AND MISSING FAMILIES FORUM

Mr Krivoi was reportedly not an Arabic speaker and this may also have hindered his efforts to stay undetected during his escape bid.

His prospects looked grim, but then on Sunday, Mr Krivoi, a Russian-Israeli dual citizen, was released after the intervention of the Russian government.

He was freed alongside 13 other Israeli hostages and three foreigners as part of a ceasefire agreement that is due to expire at the end of Monday, though it can be extended with the agreement of both Hamas and Israel.

Ms Magid said she had the opportunity for a 30-minute conversation with her nephew once he was set free in which he recounted his story. He is currently receiving medical checks from Israeli doctors, having suffered a head wound during captivity.

“He has some other injuries, he is OK. He is being checked,” she said.

For now, freed hostages like Mr Krivoi are being kept away from the media in the interest of helping them focus on their emotional and physical recovery.

Mr Krivoi told his aunt he was having nightmares about the massacre and his captivity, which he felt was a good sign as it showed he was processing the trauma of the experience.

“I asked him today: ‘How are you feeling? Do you have nightmares?’” Ms Magid told Israeli broadcaster Kan.

“He answered, ‘Yes, I have nightmares from the party and captivity, but that is good, it means I am handling it well’.”

The family says the bombing that caused the building where he was held to collapse killed six Palestinian terrorists.

A further six hostages with Russian citizenship are still being held in Gaza, according to Russian authorities. Hamas said it freed Mr Krivoi as a gesture of gratitude to Moscow for engaging directly with the Islamist group.

Also on Monday, photographs were published of the poignant moment when Abigail Idan, four, was reunited with relatives after being released.

Both of Abigail’s parents, Roee and Smadar, were murdered during the October 7 attack.

“It was just wow. I didn’t believe it until I saw it,” Carmel Idanm, the girl’s grandfather, told Israeli reporters of the moment he saw her.

“Now I’m calm, but not completely calm because there is happiness, but there is also the absence of Roee and Smadar.”

He added, in comments reported by the Times of Israel:  “There are many people who haven’t yet come back. I greatly want them to be returned and that the IDF finish what it has promised: All the hostages [back] and Hamas [destroyed].”

Separately, a 15-year-old Israeli hostage who was also released from Gaza over the weekend, said she had been separated from her mother two days before being set free.