Aunt of 4-Year-Old Israeli Hostage Talks About Her Time in Captivity

An aunt of Avigail Idan, the girl who was taken hostage by Hamas after she saw her parents brutally killed and who turned 4 a few days before being released, says that her niece shared one piece of pita bread per day with four others, and did not have a shower or bath during her 50 days in captivity.

Avigail, who is a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, was kept with the four members of the Brodutch family with whom she was kidnapped on Oct. 7. The Brodutches were the Idan family’s neighbors at the Kfar Aza kibbutz, and Avigail had hidden with the family after her parents were shot.

According to the aunt, Tal Idan, the five hostages were kept in aboveground apartments, changing locations at least once. They were given a piece of pita with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture, each day to share.

While in captivity, Avigail’s hair was cut because she had developed a significant case of lice, Ms. Idan said in an interview this week. “She was covered in it. It took quite an effort to help her get rid of some of it the first night,” she said.

“It was lovely curly hair. And now it’s all gone. But it will grow again.”

When Avigail was released on Sunday, she was met at the border in Israel by her grandmother and an aunt. A military helicopter took them to a pediatric hospital near Tel Aviv. The military gave her a set of small, pink noise-canceling headphones to put over her ears.

Avigail’s family was relieved to learn that she was not alone during her captivity, and was looked after by Hagar Brodutch as she also cared for her own three children. “We are so grateful for Hagar,,” Ms. Idan said, calling the 40-year-old “our guardian angel.”

Since the Oct. 7 attacks, Ms. Idan and her husband have helped care for Avigail’s siblings, Michael, 9, and Amelia, 6, who were not kidnapped. Now, she said, the children must adjust to a life without their parents.

“For all three of them, the focus is helping them get a new life — being able to feel safe again and being able to sleep for the entire night and not having nightmares,” she said.