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Hamas kidnap survivor eyes going back to Israel

FILIPINO caregiver Gelienor «Jimmy» Pacheco, a survivor of Hamas abduction in Israel, said on Monday that he plans to go back to Israel despite the raging conflict in the Mideast state to secure his family's future.

«First of all, I'm very happy that I'm finally home with my kids and my family. It still feels like a dream. Just like what I told my wife, yes, I'm going back [to Israel] to secure my kids' future. That's how parents should be. I don't want them to experience the hardships I had gone through when I was young. Even if they say that there will be a lifetime pension, I don't want to rely on that,» Pacheco said in an interview.

He arrived Monday morning via Philippine Airlines flight PR 659 and was welcomed by his wife Clarice, his mother Felicitas, and his three kids, ages 11(twins) and 5.

Clarice, despite being traumatized by her husband's ordeal, said she is also supportive of his decision to go back to Israel.

She said that her husband's former employer told them there were already three employers waiting for Pacheco in Israel.

«We were very happy that, finally, he is here. It came to a point where we lost hope because I thought he was gone already. For 49 days, we failed to contact him. It was very sad. Our children were also asking about him. They knew everything,» she said.

Pacheco came home last March 2023 and went back in June to Israel to work. Now, he is planning to go back again on February 1, 2024.

He was one of the more than 200 people who were taken prisoner by Hamas on the first day of the attacks on October 7 and was among the 24 hostages released on November 24.

He was abducted in Kibbutz Nir Oz, where he lived while taking care of his 80-year-old patient for five years.

«It was October 7 around 6:30 in the morning when we received an alert from Israel that there would be rockets. At first, I thought it's not that bad because that's normal in Israel, and I'm also near the border. Around 7:30, when I peeked through the window, I saw some of the terrorists already in our area,» Pacheco said, recounting his traumatic experience.

«My employer told me to secure my life as he is already old and that he is used to wars. But I chose to stay with him