‘We were not allowed to cry:’ Released Israeli hostage describes the ‘hell’ of being held in Gaza



CNN

An Israeli woman held hostage by Hamas in Gaza has described the “hell” of being held captive after her husband and daughter were killed. She told CNN that her captors would not let her surviving young children cry and tried to convince them that they had been “taken hostage.” forget.”

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

“They humiliated us and sometimes mocked us,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “They told us that we had forgotten that fighting was the only important thing for Israel.

“We weren’t allowed to cry, they wanted us to be happy… If we cried, we had to either snap out of it or hide it,” she said. “It’s a form of emotional abuse that they didn’t let us cry.”

Almog Goldstein witnessed her husband Nadav and her eldest daughter Yam being killed by Hamas gunmen who entered their home near the Gaza border on October 7.

“I took Yam’s big teddy bear, as big as a human, and put it on us to protect us from the shooting,” she told Amanpour. “Within a few seconds, five of them entered the safe room screaming, (and) when I turned around, Nadav was shot point blank in the chest.”

Moments later, her daughter was shot in the face and Almog Goldstein was bundled into a family car with her three surviving children and driven across the border. She remembered the two Hamas militants in the car taking selfies as they drove back to Gaza.

Hamas’ attacks on October 7 killed around 1,200 Israelis, while more than 200 people were taken back to Gaza as hostages. Israel believes 99 people are still being held 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 for Palestinian prisoners in Israel during a four-day ceasefire in the war.

While in captivity, she said the family survived each day with little water and food. “They tried to provide us with food. At first there was more, but later there was less,” she said.

She said they feared they would be killed by their captors or by the “incredible bombardment” of Gaza by Israeli forces.

And she described the intense surveillance of the family by the kidnappers. ‘Agam would sit down and stare, and they would say, what are you staring at? What do you think? There was no personal space.”

CNN

Almog Goldstein described the “emotional abuse” she was subjected to while in captivity.

“You have to understand that they took away our identity; it was extremely difficult for us.”

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

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

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

More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel waged war against Hamas five months ago, but recent efforts to broker a ceasefire that would allow the release of the remaining hostages have been frustrated.

On Thursday, two US officials agreed that the prospects are not promising if Israel and Hamas agree to a temporary truce early next week at the start of Ramadan. “Hope is fading,” a US official said.

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