TEL AVIV—Roni Krivoi, a 25-year-old Israeli, escaped from captivity in the Gaza Strip for several days before Gazan civilians took him back to his captors, his aunt said on Monday.
"He managed to escape and hid alone for several days. In the end, the Gazans captured him and returned him to the terrorists’ hands," Krivoi's aunt, Elena Magid, told Israel's Kan public radio station, saying that she spoke to Krivoi on the phone for 30 minutes after Hamas released him and 13 other Israeli hostages on Sunday.
The revelation was the latest evidence that ordinary Palestinians have participated in Hamas's terrorism against Israel during and since the Oct. 7 attack. The Washington Free Beacon reported that a mob of hundreds of Gazans joined in Hamas's atrocities that day, and women and children as young as 10 years old helped.
Krivoi was working as a sound technician at the Supernova music festival in southern Israel on Oct. 7 when Gazan terrorists stormed the event as part of a rampage through southern Israel in which they killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted some 240 others. Magid said her nephew managed to escape when Israeli airstrikes collapsed a residential building where he was being held.
"He tried to reach the border, but I think because he didn’t have the means to understand where he was and where to escape to, he got tangled up in the area," she said.
"I asked him, ‘How do you feel? Do you have nightmares at night?’ He told me, ‘Listen, I have nightmares, but everything is alright.’"
According to Magid, Krivoi received stitches in his head but was overall in good physical condition.
Krivoi and his immediate family, Russian-Israelis who live in Karmiel, Israel, declined through a representative to comment on Magid's account or to be interviewed at the moment, saying, "they need time to breathe and to think."
Hamas released Krivoi, who was born in Israel and has Russian citizenship, as a gesture to Russia president Vladimir Putin. The terrorist group has separately freed some Israeli women and children in recent days as part of a truce agreement with the Jewish state.
While most Gazans have not engaged in terrorism against Israel, the public has shown widespread support for those who do. Videos show Gazans celebrated in the streets as terrorists returned with Israeli hostages on Oct. 7, including the half-naked body of a 22-year-old woman. A poll by the Arab World for Research and Development, released earlier this month, found that 60 percent of Gazans feel positively about Hamas and 64 percent support the group's Oct. 7 attack.
In the West Bank, those numbers were even higher: 87 percent and 83 percent, respectively. Also in the West Bank, Palestinian officials have downplayed or endorsed the Oct. 7 attack, and pro-Hamas crowds have celebrated the return of terrorists released by Israel in exchange for the hostages.
Hamas was slated to release another round of Israeli hostages on Monday night—reportedly of nine children and two of their mothers—as part of a four-day truce agreement with Israel. Since Friday, Hamas has released 39 Israeli women and children in exchange for Israel's release of 120 Palestinian prisoners and pause of its war to destroy the terrorist group. Qatar announced on Monday, and the White House confirmed, that Israel and Hamas had agreed to extend the deal by two days, meaning 20 more Israeli hostages and 60 more Palestinian prisoners would be released.
Israel has vowed to resume the war in Gaza with full force after the truce ends.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops on Monday that when Israel returns to the battle, its "strength will be greater, and it will take place throughout the entire Strip," according to his office.
"You now have a few days, we will return to fighting, we will use the same amount of power and more."
He added: "Remember that while you are organizing and resting and investigating, the enemy is also doing the same."