June 18, 2024

Yoni Asher’s nightmare began early on Saturday morning during a phone call with his wife, Doron Asher Katz.

Whispering down the phone line, Ms. Asher Katz, 34, said that she, her mother, and their two small daughters were trapped inside her mother’s safe room in a village near the Gaza border.

“She told me, ‘There are terrorists inside the house,’” Mr. Asher said in an interview.

Then came worse news: Ms. Asher Katz’s mother’s life partner, Gadi Moses, had left the safe room to reason with the intruders.

“She said they left — and they took him with them,” Mr. Asher said.

Mr. Asher, 37, hoped that his spouse and children were safe, at least. But then the phone lines went dead.

It was the last time Mr. Asher heard from his wife.

Tracking her phone remotely, he saw that the device was taken on Saturday to Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza, suggesting that she, too, had been kidnapped.

Then a video circulated on social media of abducted Israelis being driven through the territory, bundled into the back of a pickup truck. In the video, a gunman attempts to spread a kind of blindfold over a woman’s head.

Mr. Asher recognized the woman. It was Doron.

He said his daughters, Raz and Aviv, 5 and 3, and his mother-in-law, Efrat Katz, 67, were squashed alongside her.

They are now among an estimated 150 hostages inside Gaza, according to the Israeli authorities, most of them captured from small Israeli border towns on Saturday morning.

His family intended to return home to central Israel on Saturday evening, after a short visit to their grandmother’s village. Instead, it isn’t clear when, or if, he’ll see them again.

“I can’t sleep — I’m living outside my own body,” Mr. Asher said.

“I have two little babies, two little girls,” he added. “These little babies should not be kept held or kept by terrorists.”

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