On October 7, Hamas terrorists kidnapped Nili Margalit, 41, from her home on Kibbutz Nir Oz. She has worked as a pediatric emergency room nurse at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva for a dozen years.
A day after her release from captivity in Gaza on November 30, Margalit received confirmation of the death of her father, Eliyahu Margalit. His body has still not been returned.
In a recent press interview, Margalit revealed that her captors found out she was a nurse and asked her to set up a makeshift clinic to treat other Israeli hostages held in the same unventilated tunnel 40 meters underground.
Some of these hostages were in their 80s and needed heart or blood pressure drugs. Others, in the first days after the kidnappings, needed treatment for shock or traumatic injuries suffered during their capture. Some had chronic diseases or needed antibiotics.
Margalit, who speaks some Arabic due to her work, said she wrote down for the terrorists what medications she needed but they never brought her everything and never enough quantity. She also requested vitamins because there wasn’t enough or proper food to eat.
She made do with whatever they brought, portioning out scant medications as best she could. She also used some honey that she found in a cabinet in the tunnel to disinfect wounds.
“It’s a little strange that people say I treated others, because I wasn’t truly a nurse there, but now I think that this profession protected me,” she said.
“I’ve been a nurse for 12 years. Today it’s part of who I am, a very meaningful aspect of my identity. To treat people, to help people, to diagnose sick people who need help – I love this. It does me good.”
The day before her release with 104 other hostages, the captors asked her and fellow hostage Yoram Metzger to tell Nir Oz resident Yarden Bibas, 34, that his wife, Shiri, and their two little boys were dead. They had no idea then or now if this claim is true.
“I told Yoram, if they want to tell him such a terrible thing, let them tell him themselves,” Margalit related. “Let him look him in the eyes and tell him himself.”
Before leaving the tunnel after 54 days in captivity, she did her best to prepare Bibas to fill her role in caring for injured captives.
Margalit came back to find that her house in Nir Oz had been burned to the ground with all her possessions. Only her dog was left alive. The two of them are temporarily living in Kiryat Gat.