The aunt of an Israeli child hostage recently freed by Hamas as part of a deal with Israel told French television that the terrorists had beaten the children, forced them to watch videos of atrocities at gunpoint, and threatened them with guns when they cried.
Deborah Cohen, the aunt of Eitan Yahalomi, 12, who is a dual French-Israeli citizen, told French TV outlet BFMTV on Tuesday (translated from French): “Eitan apparently saw horrors over there [in Gaza]. … Hamas forced Eitan to watch a horror film [of October 7], that no one could [bear to] watch … Every time that a child cried over there, they threatened [the child] with a gun to be quiet.” She added that child hostages had been beaten when they arrived in Gaza after being kidnapped by Hamas.
Eitan Yahalomi was abducted during the October 7 terror attack from Kibbutz Nir Oz, along with his father Ohad, who remains a hostage. Nir Oz was one of the hardest hit communities in the attack, with a quarter of the population murdered or kidnapped as hostages. All of the eleven Israeli hostages released in the fourth and final planned release Monday were women and children who were separated from their husbands and fathers, who are still being held as hostages in Gaza by the terrorist organization.
Yahalomi’s account adds to growing evidence that Israeli hostages were abused in captivity. Other accounts have mentioned being deprived of food, water, and medicine, and being unable to see light or use the bathroom.
In addition, reports are beginning to emerge about long-term psychological harm to the child hostages caused by Hamas.
We are starting to learn about the impact of Hamas captivity on the children and it’s utterly heartbreaking.
Thomas Hand, father of 9-year-old Emily, says the little girl thought she had been held hostage for a year and now cries herself to sleep.
“The most shocking, disturbing… pic.twitter.com/Gfw5rCoYEp
— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) November 28, 2023
Thomas Hand, the father of nine-year-old Emily Hand, who was thought dead before being confirmed as a hostage and later released, spoke to CNN on Tuesday, saying that his daughter would not speak above a whisper and was crying herself to sleep:
“It was only when she stepped back that I could see her face was chiseled, like mine, whereas before it was chubby, girly, a young kid face.”
“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 says. “She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”
“Last night she cried until her face was red and blotchy, she couldn’t stop. She didn’t want any comfort, I guess she’s forgotten how to be comforted,” Hand says. “She went under the covers of the bed, the quilt, covered herself up and quietly cried.”
The Red Cross has not visited the hostages and is being faulted by relatives of the hostages for failing to provide them with needed medicines or to advocate for their welfare.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.