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Freed Israeli hostage recounts ordeal in Gaza, where she says she was held in a hospital and civilian homes

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Former Israeli hostage Ada Sagi, 75, who was kidnapped by the Hamas-allied group Islamic Jihad on Oct. 7 last year, said she was held in both civilian homes and a hospital in and around the city of Khan Younis in Gaza before she was released as part of an exchange for Palestinian prisoners in November 2023.

In an interview aired Wednesday, Sagi told CBS News partner network BBC News that she was taken by two kidnappers on a motorcycle from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz into Gaza on Oct. 7. She said she was forced to leave her shoes behind, and her foot was badly burned by the exhaust pipe of the bike. She said she was put between her two captors on the motorcycle, one of whom had a Kalashnikov.

When they got into Gaza, she said she was put into a car and told by her kidnappers that they were from Islamic Jihad, which, like Hamas, has long been designated as a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S. She said she was informed that her captors wanted to keep her to use in a potential prisoner swap. Sagi and another female hostage were brought to a family home where children lived, where they were given food and a doctor was brought to look at her burn, she said.

A poster with an image of Ada Sagi, taken hostage from the Nir Oz Kibbutz during the surprise attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, is pictured during a press conference hosted by Defend Israeli Democracy UK, in London on October 12, 2023. HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

"Then we started to hear the bombs from the Israeli army. I was very terrified, because I know the bombs from the other side, from Nir Oz, but on this side it was very terrifying. All the house was shaking," Sagi told the BBC.

The next day, Sagi and the other hostage were moved from the east of Khan Younis to an apartment in the center of the city.

"You feel it was arranged, all the apartment, for hostages. The owner of the apartment and two guard[s] were students that needed money. I heard they say it's 70 shekel [about $19] for a day. It's a lot of money in Gaza," Sagi said. "From the beginning, the owner of the apartment said: 'You are like my mother. You are old and I take care for you.' I didn't believe, but it was like this because he gave me the medication for the foot. They try to keep us with good health, but the foot was not okay and I was very weak."

Sagi said that on the 49th day of her captivity, she was brought to the southern city of Rafah for an expected prisoner exchange, but there was a delay, so she was brought back to a hospital in Khan Younis where she was told she would spend the night.

She said there were "17 people from Nir Oz in several rooms" being held by militants at the hospital. 

"People that are saying that they are no[t] involved — they are involved. They're getting money from Hamas. Our housekeeper's the same. He get the money. And I ask him: 'You say you are not Hamas, you are not [Islamic] Jihad. What? You take my freedom, and I am here?'" She said the housekeeper responded: "'I want to buy visa for my children and my wife to go out from Gaza.'".

"They have no money. So much poverty there," she told the BBC.

Sagi said the world's reaction to the war between Israel and Hamas has made her "crazy."

"Every time, in every war, antisemitism raise her head. But this time, it's worse," Sagi said. "The world hates us, and I think they don't know the truth."

Sagi said her community has been destroyed.

"It was like Holocaust, but in the Holocaust, we have no army. You have no Israel. Now, we have Israel," she said.

Sagi said for many years she taught Arabic in schools to promote peace in the region, but her time as a hostage made her believe the future she envisioned is no longer possible.

"I understood the Hamas don't want it. Also, people who believe in peace are afraid from Hamas. No chance to do something with them," she said. "Israel has to do the deal, what Biden and Bibi saying, to stop the war, bring back home all these hostages who is alive and who is dead."

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