In what is being described as a miracle, and to the country’s surprise and delight, the IDF and Shin Bet announced the rescue of Hamas hostage Pvt. Ori Megidish on October 30 after a combined operation.
The IDF reported that Megidish had been medically examined and that “her condition is good, and she met with her family.”
After the news of the soldier’s return, celebrations erupted in her hometown of Kiryat Gat in the South.“Thanks to the Creator of the World, thanks to our soldiers,” Megidish’s aunt said during an emotional interview with Channel 12. “Thank you to the people of Israel.”
When the Hamas terrorist attacks began, 19-year-old Megidish was stationed at the IDF’s Nahal Oz base near the Gaza border as a lookout, after enlisting six months earlier, Channel 12 reported. Kibbutz Nahal Oz is one of the communities that were decimated by the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7.
In footage from Channel 14 that is also being circulated, showing the moments after the announcement of Ori’s liberation by Israeli forces, newscaster Sharon Gal asked to borrow the kippah of the commentator seated to his left. After donning it, Gal recited the blessing for the release of hostages, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech haolam, matir asurim” (“Blessed are you, God, King of the Universe, who releases captives”).
An Instagram reel, originally posted just a few days before her release, began trending among Israelis. It showed family members carrying a Torah scroll in a large case through their home to Ori’s room. The protective outer shell of the scroll was gold-plated and topped with a traditional decorative crown. In the video, as family members carried the scroll to her room, Megidish’s mother followed behind, throwing confetti. Later, on its way out of the apartment, she wound a white lace scarf around the top of the case as the scroll was carried past her. In the background, another family member pressed palm to palm beseechingly. The entire family prayed, and there were tearful pleas addressed to the hostage: “Ori, come home! Ori, come into the house!”
Another post showed the mother of the family making challah (and also performing hafrashat challah, in which part of the dough is removed from the rest) in her home with the participation of other women and praying tearfully for her daughter’s liberation from captivity. Over the years, performing hafrashat challah has taken on the aspect of a protective or auspicious charm.
In a photo posted on X after her release, an exhausted-looking Megidish is hugged by her aunt. Another video on X showed Megidish, standing, being repeatedly hugged and kissed by her grandmother, who sat beside a festive table around which numerous family members were gathered to celebrate the joyous occasion as more confetti was thrown, and another family member sounded a shofar, traditionally associated with liberation.
A morale boost for all of Israel
WHEN SKY News’ security and defense editor Deborah Haynes reported Megidish’s rescue, she reminded the world that “Israel is known for never leaving its people behind; they have a long history of hostage rescue operations.”
“We brought Ori home,” IDF Spokesman R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a statement. Addressing the issue of the babies, children, adults, and seniors still being held hostage in Gaza, he said: “All IDF commanders and soldiers, members of the ISA, everyone – we are all committed and have a moral obligation to do everything, everything, to bring all of the hostages home.
“Their release is not only an Israeli obligation,” he said about the hostages still held by Hamas, “it is the world’s obligation as well.”
The operation that freed Megidish was carefully planned after the Shin Bet had obtained information about her whereabouts in Gaza. In a joint operation, the IDF and the Shin Bet caught her Hamas captors off guard.
According to Channel 13, “dozens of Shin Bet agents, if not hundreds,” took part in the operation, which was possible due to the presence of Israeli army forces inside Gaza. Although other members of her unit were also taken hostage, Megidish was apparently kept alone.
“It is believed that the kidnappers resisted,” KAN public television reported.
There were no Israeli casualties resulting from the targeted operation.
Last week, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths met in Jerusalem with relatives of other hostages imprisoned in Gaza.
“For the past three weeks, their families have been living in agony, not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead,” he said. “I can’t even imagine what they’re going through.”
The morale boost to the people of Israel resulting from the safe return of Megidish is incalculable.
And for her family and many across the country, the miracle is obvious. ■