April 14, 2024

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'We were not allowed to cry': Released Israeli hostage describes 'hell' of detention in Gaza

'We were not allowed to cry': Released Israeli hostage describes 'hell' of detention in Gaza



CNN

An Israeli woman held hostage by Hamas in Gaza described the “hell” of her detention, after the killing of her husband and daughter, and told CNN that her captors did not allow her surviving young children to cry and tried to convince them that they had been “captured and forgotten.”

Chin Almog Goldstein, who was kidnapped with her surviving children during Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, said they were held in tunnels and an apartment in Gaza until their release 51 days later.

“They insulted us, made fun of us sometimes,” she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. “They told us that we had forgotten, that the only thing that was important to Israel was the fighting.

“We were not allowed to cry,” she said. “They wanted us to be happy… If we cried, we had to get rid of it or hide it.” “It's kind of emotional abuse because they wouldn't let us cry.”

Almog Goldstein witnessed the killing of her husband, Nadav, and her eldest daughter, Yam, at the hands of Hamas gunmen, who stormed their home near the border with Gaza on October 7.

“I took a big yam doll, the size of a human, and put it on top of us to protect us from the gunfire,” she told Amanpour. “Within a few seconds, five of them entered the safe room screaming, and when I turned around, Nadav was shot in the chest at close range.”

Moments later, her daughter was shot in the face, and Almog Goldstein was loaded into a family car with her three surviving children and taken across the border. She recalled that two Hamas fighters in the car took selfies as they returned to Gaza.

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Hamas attacks on October 7 killed about 1,200 Israelis, with more than 200 people returned to Gaza as hostages. Israel believes that 99 people are still detained in Gaza, along with the bodies of 31 dead hostages.

Almog Goldstein and her surviving children were released in late November, as part of an exchange of Palestinian prisoners in Israel during a four-day truce in the war.

She said that while in captivity, the family lived on little water and food every day. “They tried to provide us with food. There was a lot at first, but there was less later.

She said they feared they would be killed either by their captors or in the “astonishing bombing” of Gaza by Israeli forces.

She described intense supervision by the family's kidnappers. “The non-Arabs would sit and stare, and they would say: What are you staring at? What are you thinking? There was no personal space.”

CNN

Almog Goldstein described the “emotional abuse” she experienced while in captivity.

“You have to understand that they took our identity; “It was very difficult for us.”

“They talked to us about Gilad Shalit [the captured soldier held by Hamas for five years] “And I laughed,” she said. “They told us that we had forgotten, that the only thing that was important to Israel was the fighting.”

Almog Goldstein said she and her children discussed religion with their kidnappers and tried to keep the relationship friendly. “Sometimes we would see them crying, worrying about their wives, and writing letters to their wives.”

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Urging the release of the remaining hostages, Amanpour asked: “(Are) we as a society and the world doing everything for them? “I can attest that hell is there.”

More than thirty thousand people have died in Gaza since Israel launched the war against Hamas five months ago, but recent efforts to reach a ceasefire that would allow the release of the remaining hostages have failed.

Two US officials agreed on Thursday that… The prospects are not promising Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary truce with the beginning of the month of Ramadan early next week. “Hope is fading,” one US official said.