Heartbreaking letter to Israeli hostage Naama Levy from her mother on her 20th birthday

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"This is a letter no mother should ever have to write to her daughter," Dr. Ayelet Levy Shachar writes to her daughter, Naama Levy, who was taken hostage on October 7. @DovLipman/X

Today is the 20th birthday of Naama Levy, an Israeli woman taken hostage on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists. The photo of her being abducted, barefoot and bloodied, is one of the most disturbing images of the attacks. Here her mother, Dr. Ayelet Levy Shachar, writes to her on her birthday — a letter she hopes the world will read.

Dear Naama,

This is a letter no mother should ever have to write to her daughter. Today is your 20th birthday. You should be celebrating this occasion surrounded by friends and family. Instead, you are enduring your 260th day as a hostage in Gaza surrounded by terrorists.

world news, gaza strip, hamas, hostages, israel, israel-hamas war, letters, heartbreaking letter to israeli hostage naama levy from her mother on her 20th birthday
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Shachar saw Levy being taken away by Hamas terrorists in a video that went viral. Family handout

world news, gaza strip, hamas, hostages, israel, israel-hamas war, letters, heartbreaking letter to israeli hostage naama levy from her mother on her 20th birthday
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Video emerged of Levy in the Gaza Strip, hands tied behind her back and her sweatpants bloodied, sparking concern she had been sexually assaulted.

Ever since your abduction, we have been working relentlessly and in every way possible to bring you home. Every day without you is a day without air. The uncertainty and dread I experience is suffocating, and each passing day that you are not with us feels like an eternity. We will not stop fighting for you until you are home.

Naama, your captors have denied medical visits from the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, and this has left us in complete darkness about your well-being. We know nothing. As a physician, I am tormented by the realization that the person I most want to save in this world, I cannot.

My Naamonet, I speak to you in my heart every day. Do you hear me? When I close my eyes, I see you in front of me smiling. Do you see me? Every day I sit with my thoughts and am overcome by unspeakable anguish and pain. I ask myself, how did we reach this point? And today that pain is even sharper. You should be celebrating your birthday laughing with friends, blowing out candles with your two brothers and sister, hugging your father and me. You should be celebrating at home.

world news, gaza strip, hamas, hostages, israel, israel-hamas war, letters, heartbreaking letter to israeli hostage naama levy from her mother on her 20th birthday
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Sachar received a final message from her daughter that said, “We’re in the safe room. I’ve never heard anything like this.” REUTERS

Naama, the images of your abduction broadcast to the world are images that I cannot unsee. Your bloodied sweatpants. Your handcuffed hands. The monster dragging you by the hair and forcing you into a car. Where that car took you and what’s happened to you since, the mind wanders down a cruel, dark path. It’s too much for a mother to bear.

Marking your birthday under these circumstances is surreal. I find myself looking at the same photo of you from a previous birthday, with your sweet face resting on your hands, your light brown hair flowing through a crown of yellow and white flowers. It seems like only yesterday. It seems like a lifetime ago.

world news, gaza strip, hamas, hostages, israel, israel-hamas war, letters, heartbreaking letter to israeli hostage naama levy from her mother on her 20th birthday
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At the time of the attacks, Levy had just started serving in the Israel Defense Forces. via REUTERS

Naama, you wouldn’t believe it, but this weekend, hundreds of people will gather in Central Park to mark your birthday. They will be wearing yellow and white headbands as an homage to your crown of flowers. You wouldn’t believe that you have become a symbol of determination. As people all over the world learned about you and your love for humanity, you have become an image of all that is good, even when everything seems so bad. Your dream of working toward peace and understanding is already being fulfilled. When you come back, your impact will take on added meaning.

Naama, on your birthday, my deepest wish is that the pain of these past months becomes just one chapter in a much bigger story – a story filled with so many bright moments that they outshine this period of darkness. My wish is for your freedom to arrive as soon as possible so that your healing can begin. My wish is to hold you just as I did for the first time on this day, 20 years ago, and to promise you that everything will be alright.

Love,

Mom

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