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Russian-Israeli hostage escaped from Hamas but was found and returned by Gazans, says aunt

A Russian-Israeli hostage who managed to escape from Hamas was recaptured by Gazans and returned to the militants, before being finally released on Sunday, his aunt has said.

Roni Kriboy was abducted from the Nova music festival during the Hamas terror attack on October 7, and was then held at a building in Gaza, Yelena Magid told Israeli radio station Kan Reshet B on Monday.

The 25-year-old dual national managed to escape when the building was bombed, but after hiding out for a few days, he was caught and returned to Hamas, Magid said during a call to the radio station.

“He said that he was kidnapped by terrorists and they brought him inside some building,” she said.

“I understood from the bombings, the building collapsed and he managed to escape from there… and for several days he hid there and was alone and in the end the Gazans caught him and returned him to the hands of the terrorists,” Magid added.

“He tried to reach the border. I think that because he didn’t have the means to understand his whereabouts and where to run away, he probably got into a bit of disorientation there in the area. He was alone for four days,” she added.

Kriboy suffered a head injury when the building he was being held in collapsed, but is doing fine now, Magid told the radio station.

Kriboy is the first adult male captured on October 7 to be released by Hamas. His release was not officially part of the hostages-for-prisoners deal between Israel and Hamas.

That deal paved the way for potentially 50 women and children held captive in Gaza to be released, while Israel will release up to 150 Palestinian women and child detainees.

Hamas credited Kriboy’s release to the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin and “the supportive Russian position for the Palestinian cause.”

Magid said her nephew’s parents moved from Russia to Israel in 1992, six years before Kriboy was born. “The boy was born here and grew up here all of his life. He hardly speaks Russian,” she told the radio station.

Amir Tal reported from Jerusalem, and Stephanie Halasz wrote in London.

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