Israel-Hamas deal: These are the 8 hostages released on Thursday

Israel has confirmed the identities of the eight hostages who were released on Thursday evening, after 54 days of being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Belal and AIsha Zaidna

Belal Zaidna (credit: Hostage and Missing Families Forum)
AIsha Zaidna (credit: Hostage and Missing Families Forum)

Belal and AIsha Zaidna are two of four members of the Zaidna family, including father Yosef Hamis and their sibling Hamza, who went missing on October 7 when Hamas terrorists invaded Kibbutz Holit. They were working in the kibbutz’s cow shed at the time. Despite government involvement Hamis and Hamza’s whereabouts remain unknown, and they have not been officially classified as Hamas captives.

Shani Goren, 29

Shani Goren released from Hamas captivity November 30, 2023 (credit: BRINGTHEMHOMENOW)

Shani Goren, 29, was taken hostage from her home in Nir Oz by Hamas terrorists on October 7. She was a counselor for many years in the kibbutz’s youth organization. One of the children she worked with in that role was Eitan Yahalomi, a 12-year old boy who was also kidnapped on Oct. 7 and was released earlier this week. According to Shani’s sister, Shira, Shani was with Eitan in captivity, and watched over him, sharing her food with him and looking after his wellbeing.

Amit Soussana, 40

Amit Soussana released from Hamas captivity November 30, 2023 (credit: BRINGTHEMHOMENOW)

Amit Soussana, 40, was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists after they invaded her home in Kfar Azza, one of the hardest hit areas on October 7.

Amit is the youngest of three sisters, an attorney at one of Israel’s most prominent Intellectual Property firms. A native of Sderot, she moved to Kfar Azza a year ago.

Mia Schem, 21

Mia Schem, 21, was at the Nova festival with her friend on October 7 when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel from Gaza and massacred hundreds of people at the festival, and kidnapping others including Mia.

In the days following the massacre, Hamas released a video of Schem showing she had been treated for an injured arm, and of her telling viewers she was safe and asking them to help bring her home as soon as possible. A tattoo artist in Modiin, Schem had made a tattoo of an Israeli flag surrounded by hearts just a week before the massacre, due to her love for her country, according to the owner of the shop where she works. 

Sapir Cohen, 29

Sapir Cohen, 29, was kidnapped along with her boyfriend, Sasha Trufanov, from his family’s home in Kibbutz Nir Oz. His mother, Yelena, and grandmother, Irena Tati, were also taken captive. His father was killed. Yelena and Irena, who hold Russian citizenship, were released by Hamas earlier this week after a request by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sasha remains in captivity. 

Ilana Gritzewsky, 30

Ilana Gritzewsky, 30, was abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz along with her partner, Matan Zanguaker. A dual Mexican national who made aliyah 14 years ago after attending high school in Israel through the Naale program, Gritzewsky had told friends and family she felt she had “made it” as an Israeli by living in Nir Oz and dating an Israeli. 

In a post to the social network X after Gritzewsky’s release, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena thanked the Qatari government for its “invaluable mediation,” and said Mexico was still working to liberate the other Mexican hostage, Orion Hernandez.

Nili Margalit, 41

Nili Margalit, 41, is a pediatric nurse who was kidnapped from her home in Kibbutz Nir Oz. It took several weeks for authorities to confirm that Margalit had been kidnapped, as her home had been completely burnt to the ground. After former hostage Yocheved Lifshitz’s release, the elderly woman said that Margalit had been with her in captivity, and had tended to the other hostages’ injuries, caring for others “as she always did.”