SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As the world watches from afar, one Bay Area man is in Israel bearing witness to the hostages' homecomings, including two of his family members released by Hamas.
"It's like finding out you won the lottery. It's just an amazing thought," said Oren Rubinstein, via Zoom from Tel Aviv.
We first met Rubinstein a few weeks ago, putting up posters of the then 200 plus hostages being held by Hamas; the Pacifica resident pleading for their return.
"My first cousins, three of my first cousins have been kidnapped," he said. "My cousin Ilan, his wife Shiri, and their 18-year-old daughter. And she's one of the people that is listed as the children."
Last Saturday, the Pacifica resident found out Shiri and Noga were set to be freed.
"They didn't even know they were going to be released, they were just taken out of this cave they were in - this tunnel," said Rubinstein.
The family is choosing not to share images of their reunion and only a few details of their captivity.
"We found out Shiri was by herself alone in the dark for two weeks and they haven't even had one shower with minimal food on the ground. You know, it's torture," said Rubinstein, noting the freed hostages are just now learning of all that was lost on Oct. 7, including loved ones killed in the Hamas attack.
"They've lost everything, can you imagine? Their home is gone, all their possessions are gone, they're not even coming home with their own clothes - it's just unimaginable."
Rubinstein is relieved they're doing physically fine, and will soon be moved from the hospital to temporary housing in Tel Aviv.
"Israel prepared for 240 hostages to be released and they have houses and facilities, and doctors for them - everyone is focused on them, the whole country is focused on them," said Rubinstein, adding that with each passing day they're getting better.
"They're surrounded by love. They're surrounded by people who are supporting them. They're surrounded by an entire country that's behind them and it's amazing to be here to see that."
And, as for the third family member, Rubinstein says they're not giving up, "I think you have to hold out hope and really believe they are alive, just like I did for Noga and Shiri."
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