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'The best help is for you to pray,' says mother of Eliya Cohen, who is still captive in Gaza

Eliya is among dozens Israelis kidnapped during the Nova party massacre

Sigalit Cohen speaking on a panel of members of Israeli hostages in Gaza (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

Among the panel of five family members of hostages and fallen IDF soldiers, moderated by our ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg, Sigalit Cohen’s story might be the least well-known.

One reason for this may lie in the fact that among hundreds of similar stories, the case of her son Eliya’s kidnapping on Oct. 7 might seem unspectacular in its horror.

At 26 years old, he is not a young child nor an old man. Unlike other hostages, he didn't leave children or a wife behind – just a worried-to-death mother and a girlfriend who almost died right next to him.

The Cohens are regular Israelis, an Orthodox Jewish family living in the Judean Hill town of Tzur Hadassah, just outside of Jerusalem.

Eliya “is a marketing person, he loves life, he loves to dance. He traveled all over the world with a lot of friends,” Sigalit told the crowd at a Government Press Office (GPO) event for foreign journalists covering the war in Gaza.

Sigalit recently told the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon that Eliya has a special bond with his parents that is based on their shared faith in God.

“Two years ago I went through some kind of crisis and the only one who managed to wake me up from this crisis was him… one day he called and shouted at me, ‘You are a religious woman, a believing woman, so stop being afraid, whatever God wants is what will happen’ … He was there for me," she said.

Sigalit’s husband is disabled and she said that Eliya has always cared for him.

“Although [Eliya] doesn’t live with us at home, he helps with what is needed, has his father’s back,” she said.

He had once worked as a party organizer and still loved the dance scene, so on Oct. 7, he attended the Nova Music Festival near Kibbutz Re’im with his girlfriend Ziv.

“They went to the music festival and at 6:30 heard the alarms and ran away from the Nova party,” Sigalit said at the GPO event.

“They went to a shelter in Kibbutz Re’im and waited there for help. After an hour they heard two vans with loud music, Arabic music.”

By this point, Hamas terrorists had overrun IDF defenses and were slaughtering thousands of young Israelis and foreigners at the festival.

When the terrorists noticed nearly 30 people crammed into the bomb shelter, they started lobbing grenades into it.

Sigalit continued: “Most of them were murdered, some of the bodies that were killed there fell on Ziv, the girlfriend of Eliya. She was under the bodies for over 3 hours, not moving, her face was on the ground. She just looked like she was dead.”

When the terrorists started shooting into the mass of bodies, Eliya, who had played dead, was hit in the leg and began to scream. The terrorists noticed he was alive, pulled him out of the pile and dragged him off to captivity in Gaza.

Sigalit didn’t have reliable information about what happened at first and had even received a false report that Eliya and Ziv were safe in an Israeli hospital. Eliya's high school friend told her that her son was likely abducted but official confirmation only came three days later.

Ziv survived the terror attack, as she was undetected in the bomb shelter, under the pile of bodies.

“Ziv is trying to be strong because she wants Eliya to come back, she’s waiting for him and doing everything that he will come back,” Sigalit said.

“She also has a nephew that was murdered near to her so it’s very difficult for her… and she saw everything in this shelter so it’s very hard but she said to me, I’m now strong until Eliya will come back and then we will fall apart together.”

Sigalit and Ziv are doing everything possible – including speeches and interviews in Israel and abroad – to raise awareness about the remaining 136 hostages being held captive in the Gaza Strip.

“It’s a nightmare, we don’t sleep at all… I’m trying to do everything to know where Eliya is, what happened to him. Nobody’s seen him. I do interviews everywhere that I can so that everyone all over the world will know his story and the story of 135 more hostages.”

In her interview with Makor Rishon, Sigalit said her faith and prayer keep her going.

“We are people of faith and I know in my heart that he will return, we are praying, that is our weapon. Anyone who asks me how they can help, I say that the best help is for you to pray… Salvation will only come from God, I believe in it wholeheartedly.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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