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18:47

11 APR 2024

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Endless Nightmare: Accounts of How The Freed Gaza Hostages Are Doing Now


A look at how the hostages released as part of the temporary ceasefire agreement are faring after their release from captivity in Gaza


Released Israeli Hostage Emily Hand with Her Father


The Basic Facts


  • Of the over 240 hostages kidnapped from Israel by Hamas, 110 have been released from Gaza, many of whom have made statements to the media or have allowed relatives to do so on their behalf.


  • Captives have returned underweight, injured, and suffering from nightmares and ongoing anxiety about the state of their loved ones still in captivity.


  • Common themes among released child captives were malnutrition, poor hygiene, and a habit of whispering rather than talking out loud.


  • Common themes among released elderly captives were extreme sleep deprivation and lack of medical attention.

 

What Happened to The Hostages Freed From Hamas After Their Release? 


Of the over 240 hostages kidnapped from Israel by Hamas, 110 have been released from Gaza. While some captives have exercised their right to privacy and have refrained from publicizing their experiences and details of recovery, others have made statements to the media or have allowed relatives to do so on their behalf.


Upon their release, after being transferred by the Red Cross into Israeli territory, the hostages were sent straight to hospitals regardless of their medical status. Those who needed medical attention received immediate treatment while all had the chance to meet loved ones in the monitored environment.


Regarding their medical status, captives have returned underweight, injured, suffering from nightmares and ongoing anxiety about the state of their loved ones still in captivity.

21-year-old Mia Regev was released after 50 days of captivity, having been shot in the leg during her abduction. She is featured in a video, wheelchair-bound, alongside her brother Itai, 18, who was in captivity for 54 days. They are campaigning for the release of other hostages, namely their friend Omer who was abducted with them.





Ron Krivoi, 25, returned to Israel after sustaining head wounds due to a building collapse while he was in captivity. He escaped his captors in the chaos and survived alone for four days before being recaptured. He claims to have nightmares about his experience, “But everything is alright now,” he says.



What Was The Impact of Hamas Captivity On Child Hostages?


Dr Efrat Harlev, CEO of Shneider’s Children’s Hospital, commented on the 19 children that the hospital admitted upon their release. “They all came back very skinny,” she said. “Some lost 10-15% of their weight.” Despite their obvious hunger, the Shneider CEO observed the children’s reluctance to eat. When the parents questioned their children about this, they responded that they must save their food for later.





Dr Harlev pointedly expressed her concern with her patients’ emotional well-being. “They looked like shadows of children,” she said. “At first, they wouldn’t talk, then they would speak in whispers, and ask permission to perform basic functions, like look out of the window, open their own drawers, exit the room or shower.”


Harlev revealed that the common themes that many children spoke about were that they felt hungry and dirty. Most talked about needing to be very quiet at all times – they had been forbidden from talking, crying, laughing, or standing up. Many spoke about being transported from place to place.


One of the released children was Emily Hand, who turned 9 in captivity. Her father Tom Hand recounts his reunion with the girl. “The most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering, you couldn’t hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips,” he said. “She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”


Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy reported in a news conference that Emily’s father “sees the terror in her eyes. She thought she had been held hostage for a whole year. Her face is gaunt… She cries herself to sleep until her face is red.” CNN reports that she returned home from captivity with a head full of lice.





Emily Hand was kidnapped on October 7th along with Hila Rotem Shoshani, who turned 13 in Hamas captivity. Shoshani’s uncle, Yair Rotem, claims that Shoshani had lost weight and doesn’t show much emotion. “She talks about things that happened like it’s in third person, like it happened to someone else,” Rotem told CNN. “She’ll say she saw horrible things, but she says it with a straight face.”


Although Rotem had to keep reminding his niece that she doesn’t need to whisper, he says that she slept well during her first night in Israel and has an appetite.


Psychological trauma has been apparent in the children, with Chen Avigdori, the father of 12-year-old released hostage Noam relaying that she “sometimes wakes in the night screaming” and will not let Chen out of her sight.


Similarly, three-year-old twins Emma and Yuli Cunio, who were released with their mother Sharon, “are waking up crying, they aren’t able to sleep most nights”, according to Sharon’s brother, Moran Aloni. “Fortunately, they are able to smile now and then.” The twins’ five-year-old cousin Emilia, released with her mother Danielle, is also exhibiting separation anxiety according to Moran; “Danielle’s daughter, Emilia, is not allowing her to [go anywhere] without her, nowhere, even if it’s for the bathroom or just a room upstairs in my parents’ home.”


The states of many of the children have been kept private. Ohad Munder, 9, celebrated his birthday a month late in the hospital ward. Munder shared experiences with his friends, who refused to publicize details out of respect for his privacy. Munder’s friend Eitan Vilchik described him as “emotionally strong”. He said he could still solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute.



How Are Elderly Hostages Doing After Their Release From Gaza?


Upon release, Alma Abraham, 84, was immediately rushed to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center in life-threatening condition. Dr. Hagai Levine, heading the medical team for the Hostages and Missing Family Forums, reported to CNN that she has chemical wounds from “not treating her basic needs.” He said, “You can see on her body that she was dragged from place to place, that she was handcuffed.”


Dr. Shlomi Codish, chief executive of Soroka Medical Center said in a video statement that Abraham suffered “significant medical neglect”, and was in critical condition with risks to her life. However, after more than a day of being ventilated, as of November 28, Alma Abraham’s condition was reported to have improved, with the hospital releasing a statement saying that she is conscious and “breathing on her own.” Dr. Motti Klein, director of the intensive care department, said that "despite the improvement in her condition, she still needs continued monitoring and follow-up within the intensive care department."





Two other elderly female released hostages, Yafa Adar (85) and Margalit Mozes (77) suffered from lack of sleep throughout their days in captivity. Moses requires an oxygen device to sleep, which was confiscated by her kidnappers, so she didn’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time throughout the 49-day ordeal. Her son reported that she’s “getting better physically” and is finally able to sleep well, although “the trauma is of course still there.”


Yafa Adar also didn’t sleep for a month, according to her son. “She’s slowly starting to make up for it. She naps at noon and in the evening, a little more each day.”  Like other captives, she had lost weight and struggles with the emotional challenges of not having a home or belongings to return to, and processing the news of her grandson’s kidnapping. Despite this, Adar’s granddaughter Adva said, “She is recovering. It is not easy mentally, it is not easy physically, but she’s a very tough woman… she’s done everything in her power to be able to survive this hell.”

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Mideast Journal Staff


Mideast Journal Staff is a team of expert writers, editors, and researchers, committed to delivering accurate fact-based coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people.

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