'God knows what they're doing to them': Friend of woman kidnapped by Hamas fears for those taken

By Isaac M October 11, 2023

Many watched in horror as 22-year-old Shani Louk was paraded partially naked after being kidnapped by Hamas militants.

For Stav Gal Oliver, there was an additional torment – she recognised Ms Louk from school.

“She’s from my village, she went to nursery with my little brother. She’s just a young, sweet girl. What they’ve done to her, you can’t even comprehend. She’s just the face of so many other girls that are now being kidnapped in Gaza and God knows what they’re doing to them.”

Ms Oliver, who moved to the UK from Israel nine years ago, grew up in the village of Srigim in the centre of the country.

Speaking to me from her home in London, she breaks down crying as she explains the sheer number of people she knows who have lost their lives at the hands of Hamas militants.

“My brother’s best friend was called up to protect the villagers. I have known him since he was a baby, his unit was ambushed, and everyone was killed. He was in our house a week ago. I can’t believe it.”

Stav Gal Oliver's loved ones live in Israel
Stav Gal Oliver’s loved ones live in Israel

Ms Oliver’s whole family live in Israel and since the news broke over the weekend of the attacks by Hamas, she hasn’t slept as she waits for news of her loved ones.

Around 50,000 to 60,000 British nationals are meant to be in Israel or Gaza, and more than 10 British citizens are believed to have been killed or are missing.

Ms Oliver was at school with Itay Berdichevsky, who was killed with his wife in their home but managed to save their twin sons.

“They bravely put their babies in the shelter, locked it from the outside, and then in a matter of seconds they were both murdered. The babies were in the shelter for 12 to 14 hours alone, we’re talking about 10-month-old babies with no formula, no food. Thank God now they’re now safe with their grandmother.”

Many in the UK’s Israeli and Jewish community are, like Ms Oliver, fearful for the future.

“I honestly feel it’s the Holocaust 2.0.

“I mean in the Holocaust you didn’t have social media to witness the horror, but the terrorists this time around, proudly, proudly filmed everything. It is Holocaust because they go and they murder kids.”

Read more
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Itay Berdichevsky was killed alongside his wife
Itay Berdichevsky was killed alongside his wife

Fighting continues between Israel and Hamas

Ms Oliver spoke as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attended a prayer service for Israel following the attack by Hamas.

Mr Sunak said Hamas are “not militants, not freedom fighters, they are terrorists”.

He continued: “Their barbaric acts are acts of evil… teenagers at a festival of peace gunned down in cold blood. Innocent men, women and children raped, abducted, slaughtered. Even a Holocaust survivor taken away as a captive.”

Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy.

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Moment woman kidnapped by Hamas fighters

Hamas’s devastating attack caught Israel completely off guard, as the militants used bulldozers, hang gliders and motorbikes against the Middle East’s most powerful army.

The three days of violence between Israel and Hama since the incursion has reportedly left at least 900 Israelis and 687 Palestinians dead so far. Fighting is continuing as militants remain in Israel.

Hamas militants also moved Israeli hostages into Gaza as part of their operation on Saturday.

The Palestinian militant group has said it will execute an Israeli hostage in response to any new Gaza Strip bombings that come without a warning.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said in a statement that his country’s response to Saturday’s incursion has “only started”, adding: “What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”


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