In Hamas video, US-Israeli hostage says living in Gaza ‘hell’

Palestinian militant group Hamas released on Wednesday a video of an Israeli-American man held hostage in Gaza who is seen alive and saying that the captives are living “in hell”.

He identifies himself as Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, one of the hostages abducted from the Nova music festival in southern Israel during the Hamas attack on October 7.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum campaign group said his family had “given permission for the video of their son Hersh” to be broadcast by the media.

Goldberg-Polin was seriously wounded during his capture and the video shows him missing a hand.

Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza hold a rally near the residence of the Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem on Saturday. Photo: AFP

“I went to hang out with my friends, and instead, I found myself fighting for my life with severe injuries all over my body,” he says in the video, the authenticity of which Agence France-Presse has not been able to independently verify.

It is also unclear when or where the video was taken, though Goldberg-Polin mentions being held hostage “for almost 200 days”.

The Israel-Gaza war hit the 200-day mark on Tuesday.

Posted on Hamas’s official Telegram account, the footage shows Goldberg-Polin, likely speaking under duress, criticising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis and the military’s failed attempts to bring the hostages home.

In an apparent reference to Jewish Passover, which began this week, Goldberg-Polin calls on government members, “while you sit and have holiday meals with your families, [to] think of us, the hostages, who are still here in hell” and “bring us home now”.

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He says the captives were living “under the ground without water, without food, without sun, without the medical care that I need so much for a long, long time”.

Goldberg-Polin’s mother, Rachel Goldberg, has been campaigning for his return and met Pope Francis at the Vatican last year, where she appealed for help.

“I know you are doing everything for me to return home as soon as possible,” Goldberg-Polin said in the video, addressing his family. “I need you to stay strong for me and not stop fighting until I and each and every one of the hostages return home safely.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum also appealed for the captives to be brought home.

“Hersh’s cry is the collective cry of all the hostages – their time is rapidly running out,” the group said in a statement. “With each passing day, the fear of losing more innocent lives grows stronger.”

Rachel Goldberg (centre), mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington on April 9. Photo: AP

Israel estimates 129 of the roughly 250 people abducted during the Hamas attack on October 7 remain in Gaza, including 34 who the military says are dead.

The Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

It triggered the deadliest war between Hamas and Israel, with Netanyahu vowing to eliminate the militant group that rules Gaza.

In Israel’s blistering military offensive in Gaza, 34,262 people have been killed, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.



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