Children held hostage by Hamas speak out about the horrors they endured in captivity
As more Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas during the October 7 attack in southern Israel are released under a ceasefire, stories of the horrors they endured during more than 50 days in captivity are coming to light, reports FoxNews.
Instead of the usual chatter, crying and laughter typical of pediatric wards, it is very quiet.
Dr. Yael Moser Glassberg, senior physician at the Schneider Medical Center in Tel Aviv where freed children are treated, is part of a specially assembled team of professionals tasked with helping returning hostages. “It’s very, very quiet,” she says of her unit.
Moser Glassberg, who normally heads the hospital's liver transplant unit, said she and her team had so far worked with 22 freed hostages, including 15 children, in a specially created room.
Although most of the returned hostages appeared physically stable, many had lost up to 15% of their body weight during captivity, and all were afraid to raise their voices after spending 50 days among terrorists.
“At the moment they are being hugged by family members. The psychosocial medical team takes care of them, Moser Glassberg said. “At this stage it is too early to discuss the consequences of what they have been through.”
Horrible details of captivity
Israeli authorities have demanded that the hostages and their families not share details of their time in the hands of Palestinian terrorist groups due to fears for the safety of about 170 others still held in Gaza. But the information that has come to light still shows the clear cruelty and inhumanity of the kidnappers, especially towards babies, young children and the elderly.
On November 28, Deborah Cohen, the aunt of 12-year-old Eitan Yahalomi, who was released on January 27, told French television station BFM that the terrorists forced her nephew at gunpoint to watch raw videos of the horrors they committed on October 7.
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“This is the kind of horror movie that no one wants to see,” she said. “They forced him to watch it, and if he or any of the other children cried, the terrorists threatened them with a gun to keep them quiet.”
Cohen also described how Yahalomi, who was kidnapped in the Oct. 7 attack from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz without his family, was put on the back of a motorcycle by terrorists and driven through a broken border fence into the Gaza Strip. As they were driving him through the streets, people came out and started taunting and beating him, she said.
“I wanted to hope that he would be treated well there, but apparently not ... they are monsters,” Cohen said, adding that Yahalomi’s father, Ohad, is still being held hostage.
Yahalomi's grandmother, Esther, said that "for the first 16 days he was alone in a closed room."
“Imagine what he went through there,” she said, adding that he was later placed with a group of other hostages from his kibbutz.
“It was much easier for him there because his kindergarten teacher was there,” the grandmother said, describing how he returned thinner and now refuses to smile.
Thomas Hand, father of 9-year-old Emily Hand, said his daughter, who was released on November 25, still speaks in a whisper.
“The most shocking thing about meeting Emily was that she spoke in a whisper, to the point where it was very difficult to hear her,” said the father, who has dual Israeli-Irish citizenship. “I had to put my ear very close to her mouth to hear... In captivity she was told not to make any noise, and you can see the horror in her eyes.”
Hand said that when he asked his daughter how long she thought she had been held captive in the Gaza Strip, the 9-year-old girl replied, “about a year.”
He also described how he had to share the harsh news with Emily that Narkis, the woman who raised her on Kibbutz Beeri, had been murdered.
“Her eyes sparkled and she inhaled sharply. It was very difficult,” Hand said.
“Last night she cried until her face turned red and she couldn’t stop. She didn't want any comfort. She crawled under the covers, covered herself and cried quietly,” he said.
Alma, 13, and Noam Or, 16, a sister and brother whom Hamas freed on November 25, also recounted harrowing details of their captivity. The two teenagers were kept in an isolated room for 50 days, all the while hoping to see their mother Yonath as soon as they were released.
They were met by their grandmother and older brother and were immediately informed that Yonath had been killed by terrorists on October 7th. Their father, Dror, remains a hostage, Israeli authorities said.
Adwa Adar, the granddaughter of 85-year-old Yaffa Adar, who was released on the evening of November 24, said her family takes pains not to overwhelm the elderly woman with too many details about the massacre at her kibbutz or that her home was completely destroyed.
“She's just now getting information about what happened and is slowly putting it all together,” Adwa Adar said. “We want to give her information gradually and not overwhelm her.”
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Adwa said her grandmother, who was released from the hospital on November 28, is receiving professional help to cope with her injuries, but the family understands the recovery process will be long.
She said the biggest challenge facing her elderly grandmother now is “starting over.”
“Being an 85-year-old woman whose home is destroyed, all her memories, her photo album and everything else is really hard,” Adwa said.
Merav Raviv, a relative of 78-year-old Ruti Mundar, her daughter Keren Mundar, 54, and Keren's son Ohad, 9, who were released on the evening of November 24, said they were also trying to cope with the horrors of recent weeks.
“They were fed, but not regularly,” Raviv said in a Nov. 26 interview. “Some days they received nothing more than a few pieces of bread, and Keren and her mother Ruthie lost about six to eight kilograms in weight.”
Raviv said the family was forced to sleep on plastic benches. They begged their captors to take them to the bathroom. She said they sometimes had to wait more than an hour and a half to be seen.
As for Ohad, who celebrated his 9th birthday in captivity last month, Raviv said he was visiting his grandparents at Kibbutz Nir Oz the day he was kidnapped. He was “very scared” when rocket fire began and terrorists stormed the kibbutz.
Willingness to help
At the Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital at Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Center, deputy director Dr. Moshe Ashkenazi said he had treated about 21 freed hostages so far.
“There are some really shocking stories,” he said. “I can’t go into detail, but some of what we heard was not easy.” I must say that the strength of these people is amazing."
Ashkenazi said that while none of those in his care required urgent medical attention, "it's very clear, if you look at all of them, they all went through a very difficult period - as you would expect from any person who was held captive in for a long time."
In Israel, medical workers began preparing for a hostage return scenario almost immediately after the October 7 attack, when it was confirmed that hundreds of people, including children, had been kidnapped.
Because there are few similar scenarios in the world, Ashkenazi said the hospital, like others in Israel, assembled a multidisciplinary team of experts, including psychologists, psychiatrists and other experts, to help with the rehabilitation of those they hoped would soon return.
At Soroka Medical Center in southern Israel, one hostage, 84-year-old Elma Abraham, who was released on the evening of November 26, arrived in critical condition, her daughter Tali Amano said in a statement.
“We waited 52 days for my mother,” she said. – My mother is 84 years old, she is a grandmother and great-grandmother. She is a happy woman, incredibly optimistic. She was taken from her home and abducted on a motorcycle. "Before this, she lived independently, cooked for herself, and was able to take care of all her needs, including taking prescription medications for her chronic conditions."
Amano said her mother, who suffered from thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases, was completely medically neglected and arrived home on the brink of death.
On November 28, the hospital reported that Abraham’s condition had improved, she had woken up and was breathing on her own.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, a total of 69 hostages have been released so far, including 51 Israeli citizens and another 18 foreign nationals, mostly from Thailand, who were working in Israel on the day of the attack. Of those released, 30 were children, 20 women (mostly mothers and pensioners) and one man.
Israel believes nine Israeli children, including a 10-month-old child, remain in captivity.
As ForumDaily wrote earlier:
- October 7 Hamas attacked Israel: Netanyahu declared that “this is war.”
- 8 October The Israeli government officially declared war and greenlighted "significant military steps" in response to the surprise attack by Hamas militants.
- October 11, first plane with American weapons arrived in southern Israel, and the US government invited American citizens wishing to leave Israel evacuation flights. On October 14 it became known: Egypt, Israel and the United States agreed that foreigners living in the Gaza Strip, will be able to travel through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt.
- October 16 President US Joe Biden said Israeli occupation Gaza Strip would be a big mistake.
- October 18 Hossein Amir-Abdallahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, posted a tweet where he wrote that Israel’s time is “running out”. This happened after a rocket attack on a hospital in Gaza took place on October 17.
- 18 October US President Joe Biden visited Israelto express strong support for a country that has declared war on the Palestinian group Hamas due to its brutal terror.
- 19 October US President Joe Biden addressed the Americans from the Oval Office with a speech about the wars between Israel and Hamas, as well as Russia and Ukraine.
- October 24 Hamas released two hostages: about what one of them said.
- On October 24, at a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the situation in the Middle East is becoming more dire by the hour and called on all parties to respect and protect civilians. Israel reacted angrily to comments by the UN Secretary General.
- Israeli troops and tanks conducted a raid in the Gaza Strip on the night of October 26. The military said it carried out several strikes on terrorist targets to “prepare the battlefield” ahead of a major ground operation.
- 27 October two Egyptian cities on the Red Sea were bombed – six people were injured. The aggressor has again demonstrated the danger of the conflict between Israel and Gaza spreading throughout the region. In the same day representatives of Iran and Hamas met in Moscow to talk about Israel.
- On November 1, hundreds of foreign passport holders and wounded people trapped in the Gaza Strip began to leave the war-torn territory. For them, for the first time since the Hamas attacks on Israel, Rafah, the border crossing with Egypt, opened.
- 13 November Israel Defense Forces (IDF) showed weapons and explosives in one of the rooms located under the Al-Rantisi Children's Hospital. The Israeli military said parts of the basement were a Hamas "command and control center" and may have been used to hold hostages.
- Fifty women and children who have been held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since October 7 must be released in exchange for a four-day ceasefire. This agreement was concluded by Israel and Hamas with the mediation of Qatar and the support of the United States.
- November 24 Hamas released 25 hostages from the Gaza Strip. At the same time, the militants did not free him little hostage – 10 month old baby.
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