Hila Nili, the Israeli student who was released following her 50-day captivity as a Hamas hostage, has spoken out about her ordeal for the first time.
Nili was held by Hamas after being seized while hiking in southern Israel in October. She was released in December, after a deal was struck between Hamas and the Israeli government.
Nili said that during her captivity she was subject to “psychological warfare” and that Hamas used her as a “bargaining chip,” by continually asking for favors in exchange for her release. She said she was kept in a small, secluded room, had her personal belongings taken away, and was chained up most of the time.
Nili said that she was treated differently when she compared to the other hostages, and that she was not allowed to speak with them or even look at them. She also said she had no contact with the outside world, apart from what was shown on TV, and had to use a mattress on the ground as her bed.
Nili said that the 50 days were long, tiring, and scary, but that she was determined to stay strong and remain hopeful throughout it all.
“My family, friends, and supporters were my strength
during this difficult time. Even though it was hard, their spirit kept me alive and I found strength in our collective hope for my return,” she said.
Nili expressed her gratitude to the Israeli government and the various international organizations that helped secure her release. She also thanked those in the media who reported her story and kept her in their thoughts and prayers.
“I am eternally grateful for all of the people who worked for my release and made it possible for me to return home,” she said.
Now reunited with her family and friends, Nili says she is taking it day-by-day and adjusting to life after her captivity.
“I am still trying to process it all and find a sense of normalcy again, but I am slowly starting to rebuild my life and find my way back,” she said.