The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) estimate that Hamas is holding as many as 150 Israeli hostages in Gaza.
One of them is a 19-year-old soldier named Karina Ariev. Karina’s sister Sasha spoke to CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell about her last conversation with Karina.
At 6:30 in the morning on Oct. 7, Sasha was awakened by a phone call from Karina, an intelligence officer in the IDF. Terrorists from Hamas were storming Karina’s army base along the Gaza border.
“I could hear on the phone that something is wrong,” Sasha recalled. “I heard bombings and screaming and people crying. And she said ‘We’re bombed. We’re in the bomb shelter currently, all the girls.'”
“It happened so fast. They weren’t prepared for it. It was a planned attack. She told us that we should get to the news on TV to see that all the cities in the south of Israel are being bombed now. And then she said that there is a raid on the base. She said the terrorists, they are here. We can hear them. They’re shooting, not only bombing,” Sasha told CBN News.
“She called mainly to say goodbye, that she loves us and that she wanted us to keep alive and told me especially to keep the parents strong, and do not sink in sorrow,” she said.
Then Karina hung up and started texting so the terrorists wouldn’t hear her.
“They wanted to hide, so the terrorists won’t find them,” Sasha continued. “But they did. They were in the entry of the bomb shelter. And that was actually the last message: the terrorists, they are here. No one imagined that it would be the last call for now. It’s the last thing that we heard of her that she said goodbye. At least we could tell her that we love her.”
Sasha later identified her sister in a social media video, in which she’s seen lying in the back of a car driven by Hamas. The image is horrifying, but Sasha still has hope for Karina’s return.
“Maybe you don’t see me crying, but I am broken and devastated inside,” she said wearily. “I’m just trying to keep it together for my family, both parents and my sister. And to be strong and to believe and spread the hope that she and all the other hostages and missing people will come soon back home. We need and not only us but all the other families to know what is happening to their children, dead or alive, it doesn’t matter. Good news or bad news. It is news,” Sasha said.
“She’s my only sister. She’s my heart. You know, I love my parents, but she’s in the first place because she’s my little sister. You know, she’s for me. I was the older one, and she was born for me. Maybe for my parents too, but for me, so I will have someone in my life. And I believe. I believe she will come back to me,” she concluded.