For at least a few moments Monday, the shadow of death that has hovered over Israel for the past two months parted for a ray of unstinted joy.
On Monday, five-year-old Emilia Aloni completed her journey from the arms of evil to the arms of her kindergarten classmates.
Emilia Aloni and her mother were held by Hamas for seven weeks after being taken from the kibbutz of Nir Oz, which is located barely two miles from the border with Gaza, according to the Times of Israel.
A video posted to X of her return is a reminder that security in a nation scarred by the massacre of Oct. 7 is ever-present, as the girl waits for the gate to her school to be unlocked.
Little Emilia Aloni, who was held hostage by Hamas, returned to kindergarten for the first time since being released. Her little friends shower her with love. pic.twitter.com/VJeaOcBSEf
— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) December 5, 2023
When it is, the girl’s teacher said she wanted to start singing in celebration, according to the Times of Israel, which provided a translation of the comments in the video.
Then came hugs from her fellow classmates.
“I missed you,” some said.
“I haven’t seen you for a very long time,” a girl said, while a boy noted he had seen her on TV.
Emilia and her mother, Daniel Aloni, were taken hostage by Hamas in Nir Oz while they were visiting Emilia’s aunt, Sharon Aloni-Cunio. They were released on Nov. 24, according to Sky News.
מרגש: אמיליה אלוני חוזרת לגן אחרי שנחטפה לפני חודשיים על ידי מחבלי חמאס pic.twitter.com/KWXQaVIFmG
— יוסף חדאד – Yoseph Haddad (@YosephHaddad) December 5, 2023
About 20 people were killed in Nir Oz on Oct. 7, among about 1,200 people killed that day. About 80 people from or visiting Nir Oz were taken hostage that day, according to the Times of Israel.
No dead terrorists were found there.
Itai Anghel, a war correspondent, shared what he saw in Nir Oz when he visited in the immediate wake of the attack, according to CBS.
“You see hell,” he said.
“It’s like you visit a nightmare. I remember that’s what I felt when I came back from Rwanda, the genocide, when I came back from Syria, Iraq, when I witnessed what ISIS did. And I felt it in Nir Oz. I mean, you see houses completely burned. You see bodies completely burned, mutilated,” he said.
“You know, I can express myself pretty good, but I cannot express the smell; it’s something that sticks and stays with you. This is horrible. You see the handle of the safe room in every house. It’s twisted. It’s a sign of the people inside who tried to give a fight in order to not let the Hamas terrorists enter,” he said.
He said he did not know if the community would ever recover and its residents return.
“I want to believe that they will come back because houses are gone. You can build houses,” he said. “The question is whether you can rebuild a soul.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.