Hamas Hostages Speak Out About Hunger and Darkness in Captivity
New details have emerged about the treatment of hostages seized by Hamas during their attack on southern Israel. Reports reveal that the hostages, who were released as part of a Qatar- and Egypt-mediated deal, endured poor nutrition and solitary confinement while in captivity. So far, over 50 Israeli women and children, along with several foreign nationals, have been released. However, more than 160 hostages remain held in the Gaza Strip.
While the hostages released under the truce have not yet provided direct accounts of their conditions, some information is slowly coming to light. Medical professionals treating the released hostages have shared that they were given “very unnutritious food” during their captivity. In addition, one doctor reported that those she spoke to described being kept several stories underground and only given two hours of light each day. The hostages’ meals consisted mainly of rice, canned hummus, fava beans, and salted cheese with pita. They were deprived of fruits, vegetables, and eggs.
The scarcity of food supplies in the Palestinian territory during the war has led to widespread hunger. The World Food Programme has raised concerns about the situation. Furthermore, the hostages were denied access to writing materials, such as pencils or pens, as Hamas feared they would transmit information. They were also deprived of television and reading materials, leaving them with only conversation to pass the time.
Relatives of the hostages have also shared their accounts of mistreatment and hardship. Esther Yaeli, the grandmother of a 12-year-old French-Israeli boy who was released, revealed that he was held in solitary confinement for 16 days. She described his experience as horrible, stating that the noise of the bombs had a lasting impact on his well-being.
Upon their release, the hostages are immediately assessed for any urgent medical care. Two of the freed hostages have been hospitalized, including an 84-year-old woman who has since shown signs of improvement. Hagar Mizrahi, the head of the Israeli health ministry’s operations for returning hostages, described the conditions the hostages endured as “horrible” and expressed concern over the medical consequences they may face.
While some details have been disclosed, hospitals have been instructed to refrain from providing further information to protect the safety of those still held captive. The Israeli government is facing pressure to ensure the release of all remaining hostages.