By Eli Berlzon

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Mia Leimberg emerged from practically two months’ captivity in Gaza with Bella, her Shih Tzu, in her arms, one of the astonishing moments of a week-long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that ended final Friday.

“Once we had been there we needed to feed her our leftovers – yeah I am speaking about you Bella,” stated Mia, 17, wanting down on the small white canine in her arms. “And we needed to be sure that she does not run wild the place we had been. We needed to maintain her in order that she does not go exploring and annoy anyone there.”

Mia and her mom Gabriela had been visiting household in Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak once they had been taken hostage by Hamas throughout its Oct. 7 killing spree via southern Israel, sparking the battle with the Palestinian Islamist group in Gaza.

The mom, daughter, aunt and canine had been let loose as a part of a swap for Palestinian prisoners, however her uncle and her aunt’s companion stay in captivity.

“It was troublesome. I held her (Bella) all the way in which there. It was an additional 4 kilos. And I am simply fortunate sufficient that I managed to maintain her via that entire state of affairs and convey her again,” Mia stated from her dwelling in Jerusalem in her first media interview.

Descriptions of Hamas captivity have began to emerge with the return dwelling of among the Israeli hostages. Some have described ‘suffocating’ quarters, with no entry to treatment and dwindling meals. Kids have recounted being ordered all the time to maintain quiet.

“Fortunately for me Bella is in contrast to all the opposite small canine that I personally know, she is moderately quiet, until when she is taking part in or mad,” she stated. “If they’d have seen her as a hassle I feel they’d not have let me maintain her, in all honesty.”


Many pets had been killed or went lacking throughout Hamas’ rampage.

Mia’s father Moshe stated they looked for Bella through the weeks of his household’s captivity. The day of their launch, he was shocked to listen to she got here out holding the canine.

He described in additional element what his daughter went via to maintain Bella. “She was apprehensive that one thing would occur to the canine if she left her behind,” he stated.

Mia hid the canine beneath her pyjamas as they had been loaded right into a car that drove out of the kibbutz.

“Then they took them to tunnels … she had the canine together with her the entire time,” he stated. “Once they got here out of the tunnel they needed to climb up a ladder, that is when the Hamas folks seen that this was not a doll, it was a residing, respiratory canine.”

“A little bit of an argument ensued, and it was determined to let her maintain the canine as an alternative of depart it behind.”

The captives cleaned up after the canine to stop unhealthy smells.

“She was very decided to deliver the canine again, and one of many expressions that she has now, in regards to the canine, is ‘I like you to Gaza and again’.”

Greater than 100 hostages had been freed within the truce that ended on Friday. Since then combating has resumed with Israel pursuing its army offensive towards Hamas in Gaza.

Mia described how captivity was a tricky expertise that “will take fairly the whereas to, like, sink in.” However having Bella helped. “She was an enormous assist to me. She saved me busy. She was ethical help.”

She stated they may struggle for the liberty of the opposite hostages, together with her uncle and aunt’s companion.

“We miss them on daily basis and it feels incorrect being right here with out them,” she stated. “As a lot as I’m joyful to be again, we’re nonetheless not performed.”

(Reporting by Eli Berlzon; Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Enhancing by Howard Goller and Janet Lawrence)

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