Noralin Babadilla
Noralin BabadillaCourtesy of the family

Noralin Babadilla, who was taken hostage from Kibbutz Nirim on October 7th and released 53 days later from captivity, said in an interview on Tuesday on Reshet Bet radio that, "Gilad Schalit’s picture was hanging in the small room where we were held."

Noralin spoke about the moment of the kidnapping and her immense panic when facing the armed terrorists: "There were five of them. They pointed their guns at me and I shouted 'not me.' I showed them my cross and told them I was Filipino – ‘please not me, I have a family.' They took me in a car. I was there alone with bodies of murdered Israelis in the back of the van."

When arriving in Gaza, three terrorists led Noralin to a house, where she was held in a small room with freed hostages, Irena Tati and Karina Engelberg: "Every day was like hell. On the first day there was electricity and a fan and then there was no electricity. We were hot. There was less water and food," Noralin says. She also said: "For 23 days we didn't have a shower. When we asked for a shower, they put a small bucket in front of the three of us. I was the last – what was left for me? Even when we went to the bathroom, we didn't have water to flush. Sometimes we couldn't flush the water for a whole week and the smell would come into the room.”

Noralin said that the hostages could not sleep because of the "booms" they were hearing: "The three of us ate pita or corn once a day. They put the food on the carpet and we would eat. We shared what they gave us. One day they took pictures of us and gave us meat from above, to show that they were giving us good food – I told Karina that 'this is their propaganda.’ We talked among ourselves in whispers, wondering when we would get out, what would happen to our husband and family, would they kill us – all kinds of things. I kept hearing men yelling and getting angry, everyday I thought they were going to kill us."

In order not to lose track of time, the three hostages found a way of counting the days: "Karina rolled up the toilet paper and we counted the days. Every day that passed she would put a rolled piece of paper in a cup." Noralin spoke about the fear that she would remain in captivity: "I heard the booms and I kept thinking that there was no ceasefire and that maybe we would stay there. We had all kinds of bad thoughts."

About her partner Gideon, who was kidnapped and murdered, she said: "Every day I prayed and spoke to him. I thought Gideon was alive. I told him to 'Hold my hand and we will meet. We will return.' I thought that he was also there. I told myself, “I hope that he is also there and we will come back from captivity together."