After 17-year-old Mia Leimberg’s was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists from her home Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, her family and friends tried to find her dog, Bella. “We left no stone unturned,” Mia’s teacher Orna said. “We even sent rescue personnel into the Kibbutz and what not.”
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So when the family saw images of Mia being released from Hamas captivity with tiny Bella nestled safely in her arms were shown, they were taken aback, but relieved.
“When Mia returned, I could feel my entire body trembling with excitement, and it seemed like the rest of the class was just as thrilled,” Orna said. Since then, she had the opportunity to sit down with Mia and listen to her remarkable tale, including the moments of solace and comfort provided by her loyal companion, Bella, during her time in captivity.
Mia recounted the heart-wrenching moment of her liberation, when she was caught holding onto Bella tightly, away from the clutches of the terrorist. “She told me that he looked at her in disbelief and asked, ‘What is this?’ and she defiantly replied, ‘It’s mine!’ She was afraid that he would separate them, unaware that Bella had been by her side throughout the ordeal.
“Bella remained silent, never barking and never drawing attention to their presence. Mia revealed Bella was her constant source of solace, always staying close and providing the much-needed warmth of a hug. Mia even shared meager food rations with her, and would quickly clean up any messes to avoid detection. During their conversation, Mia expressed her hope that one day their extraordinary story would be adapted into a movie. This is one hell of a story.
“Yesterday was a whirlwind of emotions. The entire class, including myself, were practically vibrating with excitement. The students were leaping with joy, their excited cheers filling the air. We had all been through a tumultuous period, full of uncertainty and upheaval. Mia, one of our own, had been kidnapped and we were left clueless about her condition.
“We were left in the dark about whether she had any contact with the outside world, whether she was alone or separated from her mother, and what she was undergoing in her captivity. Her friends were especially affected, their eyes often welling up with tears as they moved throughout the day. The rollercoaster of emotions continued as we heard contrasting reports: one moment there was hope of their return, then gone the next.”
Tomer Baliti, the head of the high school for the arts, expressed his joy and relief, saying, “We are all incredibly excited. Mia is a wise and kind-hearted girl, a true friend. Her friends and fellow students visited her in the hospital yesterday. The fact that her dog was with her throughout this ordeal is a source of comfort for us all. We believe that having her dog by her side made her time in captivity slightly more bearable.”