"I know she's alive, and that means a lot," Emma Tsurkov, the younger sister of Elizabeth Tsurkov, said in an interview with Israeli media Thursday morning, discussing her sister's abduction in Iraq and how it has caused her and her family considerable worry.
Elizabeth Tsurkov went missing in Iraq in March while on a trip to do research for her PhD at Princeton University. She is a Russian-Israeli dual national and entered Iraq on her Russian passport.
Originally, there were fears that she was murdered, Emma said in an interview with KAN, saying, "Immediately after she was abducted, we were afraid she was killed."
However, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said that she is alive and well, considering the circumstances. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said that it sees Iraq as responsible for her well-being.
A senior Israeli diplomatic source said that Jerusalem is doing “all it can,” through a number of channels, to ensure her safety and return, and has been in touch with Tsurkov’s family. The source would not give details on the efforts to free her, nor would the source say which other countries are involved.
'We spoke every day'
"We were in contact every day," Emma told Maariv. "I spoke to her the day before she was kidnapped...Then, the next day I noticed she did not answer my message. She always answers when I send a video of my son and when she didn't answer, I knew something was wrong."
"We are going through a very difficult time," Emma explained. "It did not happen suddenly; it took time to understand what was happening... I am in constant contact with the Israeli authorities. I do not wish these sleepless nights on anyone."
It is illegal for Israelis to enter enemy states such as Iraq, even with a foreign passport. The source pointed out that the government of Israel has long warned against such travel.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.