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'I was in tears': B.C. woman's aunt among 2 latest hostages released by Hamas

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VANCOUVER -

The niece of an Israeli couple kidnapped during the surprise attack by Hamas earlier this month said she's relieved to learn of her aunt's release – but she remains deeply worried about her uncle.

Rutie Mizrahi, a Canadian-Israeli living in Vancouver, told CTV News she's been filled with dread since her elderly relatives were abducted on Oct. 7 along with approximately 200 others, most of them believed to be Israeli civilians.

On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed Mizrahi's aunt, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz, had been freed along with one other hostage, 79-year-old Nurit Cooper.

"I was actually in tears since I heard," Mizrahi told CTV News. "I can't wait for her to be home."

Mizrahi said all she knows about her aunt's condition comes from videos, in which the senior, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and normally uses an oxygen tank to sleep, appears to be healthy and not physically wounded.

She has received no information about the status of her uncle, 83-year-old Oded Lifshitz.

"We know nothing about him," Mizrahi said. "I don't even know if they were kept together or if they were separated, so I'm not even sure that we'll get any new details now when (my aunt) comes home."

She described her uncle as a former journalist and peace advocate who fought for human rights, with most of his attention focused on Gaza and Israel.

According to the family, prior to this month's attack, Oded Lifshitz would spend some of his spare time picking up Palestinians at the border and taking them to medical appointments in Israel.

Relatives previously said the Lifshitz's home in the kibbutz community of Nir Oz was burned down as members of Hamas – which has been declared a terrorist group by many Western nations, including Canada – stormed into Israel and massacred at least 1,400 people.

"They have nothing left," Mizrahi said of her aunt and uncle. "It's really hard to believe that something like this can happen."

The only other hostages released by Hamas so far are an American woman and her teenage daughter. The group said it freed all four of the kidnapped civilians for humanitarian reasons.

According to Palestinian authorities, more than 5,000 people have been killed so far in retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli government, which is expected to mount a ground assault on Gaza as the conflict continues.

U.S. officials have reportedly asked Israel to delay that invasion to allow more time to negotiate the release of additional hostages.

With files from The Associated Press 

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