Murdered, kidnapped and tortured by terrorists, British-Israeli Ayelet Svalitzky’s family has been ripped apart by Hamas.
Then they tormented her by sending her photos of her elderly mother and brother on Facebook with a one-word caption: Hamas.
Later, Ayelet, 46, who lives on a kibbutz in northern Israel discovered that the armed group had murdered her elder brother Roi, 54.
Today marks one month since the abduction of Ayelet’s brother Nadav Popplewell, 51, and her mother Channah Peri, 79, on what Israelis now call ‘Black Saturday’.
Both require regular medicine for diabetes, leaving Ayelet sick with worry about their health.
Looking back at her wedding photos, from 20 years ago, tries to recall her family in happier times, Ayelet took MailOnline to the place where that photo was taken, but now stood alone contemplating what she has lost – and what more she might still lose.
British-Israeli Ayelet Svalitzky’s family has been ripped apart by Hamas. Pictured: Ayelet Svalitzky
Photos of her terrified mother Channah Peri, 79, were sent to her, along with a message that just read: ‘Hamas’
‘That photo shows my wedding day – 20 years ago, it was the happiest day of my life. Now everyone has gone. My whole family. No one is left. None of my family is left.’
She continued: ‘But now it’s just me. My dad passed away 18 years ago – I have my husband’s side and my kids, but on my side, not one person is left. No one in that photo is left. ‘
The Popplewell family are originally from Wakefield in West Yorkshire but have been living in Israel for years.
Ayelet added: ‘I was standing there surrounded by friends and family.. Today was an empty wedding venue, just me and no one else. It isn’t reality. How can this be my reality?
‘My life was split into two on Oct 7, a month ago. On the first night all my family was missing , then the next day they found my eldest brother’s body and I spent that time trying to get his body identified.
‘My DNA, his DNA, searching for X-rays, dental records, things one never expects to deal with. And on the other hand my mother and other brother have been kidnapped and I am trying to find the voice to raise awareness.’
‘They haven’t seen the Red Cross, nothing. My mother uses insulin every single day and my brother is also diabetic. There has been no news, proof of life, we don’t know what condition they are being held in. Nothing. We have expectations of the Red Cross, it’s the minimum requirement for them to be seen, so much is unknown, it’s sickening, constantly worrying, everyday actions are riddled with guilt.’
The Popplewell brothers were among around 20 Britons, including children, feared dead or captured after the Hamas attack.
Today marks one month since the abduction of Ayelet’s (pictured) brother Nadav Popplewell, 51, and her mother Channah Peri, 79, on what Israelis now call ‘Black Saturday’
Their homes on kibbutz Nirim, a mile from Gaza, were stormed by gun-toting maniacs.
They stormed into the house of Mrs Svatitzky’s mother, and rounded up Nadav Popplewell, 51, who lives next door.
Then they snapped the photos and cruelly sent them to contacts in the old lady’s phone, including Mrs Svatitzky’s 13-year-old daughter.
Ayelet added: ‘When I go to bed, does my mum even have a bed? When I eat, do they even have food? Are they being fed?’
‘I had to bury my brother alone on my Kibbutz in the north temporarily, I had to sit the Jewish week of mourning, all on my own without my side of the family. I even felt guilty sitting on a chair when my poor mother was probably sitting in a tunnel.
‘I couldn’t even mourn my brother properly because when all I could think of was ‘You have just wasted an hour you could have used that time to fight for your mother and brother.’
‘I didn’t ask about his cause of death. I just didn’t want to know as it would have hindered my concentration and my mission is fighting for my mum and other brother. ‘
The Popplewell family are originally from Wakefield in West Yorkshire but have been living in Israel for years. Pictured: Ayelet Svalitzky
‘I tell myself I am doing what I can but it’s such helplessness, it’s out of control. The fact that they are not healthy people and the Red Cross didn’t even see them…… where the hell is the red cross? Where is the UN? Where is everyone?’
That morning Ayelet’s husband alerted her to the news that something was happening at the Gaza border where she grew up. She called her mum immediately and told her to go to the safe room and lock herself in. Channah said there was no lock, ‘that’s when I heard men with an Arabic accent speak to her in English. ‘
‘Then I hung up the phone and I realised the infiltrators had got to her, so I called my brother Nadav who lives next door and told him to lock himself in the safe room and not to let anyone in as I didn’t know what was happening at mums but I didn’t tell him as I didn’t want him to panic.
‘The next thing I heard the same voices speaking to him, so I hung up the phone and called everyone I knew on the Kibbutz – we have a volunteer security group, they were already engaged in combat.’
A few minutes later Channah’s phone sent Ayelet two photos, of her mum in her nightgown and her barefoot brother sitting in her living room, with Hamas written in English underneath ‘My mum is still in her nightgown. They then uploaded a photo to her Facebook story because she is 79 and doesn’t know how to do it. They were photos taken by a third party and one shows a terrorist standing in the corner with a Kalashnikov. ‘
‘I thought they were dead, this was about 8:15am. Rumours about hostages circulated around noon, so I thought they were dead for 4 hours. The next day the army confirmed it. I do not know whether it’s better to be dead or kidnapped. What’s the better option?
‘My whole life has frozen, that day changed us forever. I can’t believe it’s been a month, and no sign of life from them. Where is the red cross?’