At least one-third of the 136 hostages still in the Hamas terror group’s custody in Gaza are at imminent risk of death, a disturbing report released on Tuesday found.
The report came a day after several former hostages, who were released during a temporary Israel-Hamas truce at the end of November, testified that those still in captivity in Gaza had been subjected to extreme forms of violence, including sexual assault at gunpoint and amputation.
“The testimonies from those who have been released reveal severe mental and physical abuse. This includes brutal sexual assault (men and women) mutilation, torture, starvation and dehydration, and a lack of medical care, with no access to Red Cross representatives. The worsening health of these hostages, both men and women, is alarming,” the report, released by the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, stated.
The forum was established by families of the abductees who were kidnapped to Gaza during Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught across southern Israel, as well as by the families of people who went missing due to the attack.
A third of the hostages are suffering from chronic illnesses that need immediate treatment, including diabetes, Crohn’s disease, cancer, and heart and kidney disease. The hostages suffering from those diseases include young people — such as 22-year-old Omer Wenkert, who has ulcerative colitis, and 35-year-old Dolev Yehud, who suffers from kidney and thyroid diseases — and older people, Israeli Jews and Arabs alike.
A chilling testimony by Agam Goldstein-Almog, 17 — who was released after 51 days of captivity along with her mother, Chen, 49, and siblings, Gal, 11, and Tal, 9 — was screened at a rally in Tel Aviv.
“One day we moved from a house to a tunnel, suddenly a door opened, and we met six girls. We realized that there were girls who were alone. Many girls experienced severe sexual abuse, they are injured — very, very serious and complex injuries that are not being treated,” she said. “They dress their wounds themselves, or we helped them.”
In captivity in Gaza, “you live death,” she said.
“You don’t know when it will catch you and how it will look, if it will happen through torture or if they will just shoot you or even if it’ll be by the bombings from the air force,” she continued. “You’re always thinking about what death will look like.”
Goldstein-Almog’s mother, Chen, a social worker, said she saw some of the female hostages still being held in Gaza during her time there, and they had suffered weeks of isolation as well as sexual abuse.
“There were girls who spent 50 days and more alone. When they were sad, crying, their captors would stroke them and touch them. They described accounts of sexual abuse under gunpoint on a regular basis,” she said.
“Some of the girls were badly wounded and haven’t been getting proper medical care. Gunshot wounds, even lost limbs. They said they can cope with the disability but not with the manner they were constantly violated,” she added.
Chen Almog-Goldstein’s other daughter, Yam, 20, and husband Nadav were among the 1,200 people murdered by Hamas terrorists during their Oct. 7 massacre.
Eighteen-year-old Ofir Engel’s testimony, in which he described the pride with which he was shown off like a trophy, was also screened at the Tel Aviv rally.
“In Gaza we were immediately brought to a home, as if they were proud to show what they managed to catch,” said Engel, who was released after 54 days. “We were constantly told that we won’t return alive, that no one wants us in Israel, and that our families don’t care about us. Every day, they broke us a little more, and then a little more.”
Tuesday’s report, which was released to coincide with the three-month anniversary since Oct. 7, was accompanied by a letter from eight Nobel Prize laureates who urged the UN, Red Cross, and World Health Organization to advocate for the hostages’ release and to facilitate access to medical aid in the meantime.
Prof. Hagai Levine, head of the forum’s medical team, issued a stark warning: “All the hostages face immediate mortal danger. Some will not survive 100 days in captivity without proper care.”
A day earlier, Israeli media reported that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is aware of the exact whereabouts of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ chief in Gaza, but is refraining from carrying out a strike because the terror leader was surrounding himself with dozens of hostages as human shields.
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Montreal’s Jewish Public Library moves books by local children’s author Elise Gravel to closed stacks in response to her series of illustrated messages criticizing Israel
Montreal’s Jewish Public Library has relocated renowned Montreal children’s author Elise Gravel’s books to the closed stacks after Jewish advocacy groups singled out some of her social media posts as antisemitic. Gravel is “one of Quebec’s most beloved children’s book authors. Her work is vibrant, thoughtful, funny, and educational,” said a statement from the Jewish […]
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‘I’m Speaking Up Against Evil’: Israeli Columbia University Professor Addresses Smear Campaign
Columbia University professor Shai Davidai, a Jewish Israeli, defended his right to condemn Hamas’ atrocities on Thursday after learning that an anonymous group of graduate students has accused him of anti-Palestinian racism and demanded a professional association of which he is a member to publicly censure him.
Anti-Zionist TikTok influencer Jessica Burbank first reported the accusations the graduate students lodged in a letter to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), an organization founded in 1974 to promote the social psychology field and its usefulness to society. Comprising over 7,500 student and faculty members, it provides invaluable funding and networking opportunities.
Accusing Davidai of “targeting individuals — especially Palestinians and students of color,” the students’ letter describes his efforts to hold pro-Hamas student groups accountable for harassing Jewish students and defending terror as “decolonization” as “blatant dereliction of duty with respect to his responsibilities and ethical standards as a professor and faculty member of SPSP.” The students additionally accused him of promoting “doxxing” and “misrepresenting” the views of pro-Hamas groups, all of whom have defended Hamas’ atrocities on Oct. 7 while calling for a ceasefire, a strategy they have employed to portray themselves as a pro-peace movement.
On Thursday, Professor Davidai told The Algemeiner that the man depicted in the letter is not someone his community, students, and peers would recognize, and he accepts that enduring assaults on his character is a consequence of defending the Jewish people wherever they are, be it Israel or New York City.
“Look, I’m speaking up against evil, and against the support of evil,” he said. “I’m willing to take the reputational hits because people that won’t like me for saying what I’m saying — I don’t need them to like me. This isn’t about the performative virtue signaling that is en vogue right now. This is about having a moral compass and standing up for what’s right.”
Davidai went on to express concern that his colleagues in the field have not defended him, a silence which suggests that criminating pro-Israel activists with baseless accusations will not be denounced or resisted even by moderates holding nuanced views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s war against Hamas.
“If I have to pay the price, I’ll pay the price. Thousands and thousands of Jews and non-Jews contact me to say that calling out pro-Hamas support on US college campuses is the right thing to do,” he continued. “And the irony is that I won’t be silenced. They might take away my reputation. They might take away my job and my career. But I’m not the kind of person who will be quiet now that there’s a personal cost for telling the truth. They’re just proving my point.”
Davidai first achieved national notoriety after delivering a thunderous speech before a crowd of students and others gathered on campus in which he called the school’s president a “coward” for refusing to condemn Hamas apologists and anti-Zionist demonstrations on campus.
“I’m talking to you as a dad, and I want you to know we cannot protect your children from pro-terror student organizations, because the president of Columbia University will not speak out,” Davidai said to the students, whom he asked to film and send the remarks to their parents. “Citizens of the US are right now kidnapped in Gaza, and yet the president of the university is allowing — is giving — her support to pro-terror student organizations.”
In many ways, becoming a public figure has been a detriment, Davidai said. His email is flooded daily with notes from antisemites accusing him of being an “Elder of Zion” and a “genocidal baby killer.”
His colleagues, furious that his exposing antisemitism and left-wing radicalism at Columbia University has caused important donors to pull their support from the school, have never commented on the hate mail even though they are always copied as recipients of it, he alleged.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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‘We Have Lost All Confidence’: Bipartisan Letter Urges Blinken to Demand Top UN Officials Resign
A bipartisan group of 12 US legislators sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week urging him to demand that United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the head of UNRWA — the UN agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees — Philippe Lazzarini resign over the recent revelation that UNRWA employees were involved in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack.
“We have lost all confidence in Secretary-General António Guterres’ ability to ensure that the U.N. is not actively supporting terrorism or giving refuge to known terrorists. Therefore, we ask you to demand that Secretary-General Guterres and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini immediately resign from their posts,” the letter states.
The signatories were Democratic Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Don Davis, Jared Moskowitz, Brad Schneider, Haley Stevens, and Ritchie Torres — along with Republican Representatives Don Bacon, Anthony D’Esposito, Brian Mast, Max Miller, Michelle Steel, and Claudia Tenney.
The letter laments what the legislators say was an inappropriate response to October 7 by the UN, pointing out that “While innocent blood was still fresh on the ground, the UN’s first response to these atrocities was to draw a moral equivalency between the Hamas terrorists and Israel, who acted in her own self-defense and the defense of innocent civilians, including Americans.”
“UN Women,” the letter continued, “also failed to condemn the heinous attacks on women in a timely manner — even after widespread, well-documented cases of sexual assaults, rape, and genital mutilation.”
It then turned its attention to UNRWA, the UN agency dedicated solely to Palestinian refugees. Recent reports have revealed that at least twelve UNRWA employees — including teachers — took part in Hamas’s October 7 attack. Seven infiltrated Israel itself along with Hamas terrorists, others helped to kidnap Israelis and provide ammunition.
Not only that, but the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza has exposed that “Hamas has stored weapons in UNRWA buildings, used UNRWA resources for terrorist activities, and built tunnels under UNRWA facilities,” the letter says. The reps ask: “How long before we acknowledge the truth and label UNRWA as a tool for Hamas and others to recruit and train?”
A recent Wall Street Journal report estimates that around 10% of UNRWA employees are terrorist-linked — about 1,200 of the 12,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza.
Blinken has not yet responded to the letter. But after the initial allegations against UNRWA were made, he wrote in a statement that The United States is extremely troubled” by them and that “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
The reports, based on evidence gathered and shared by Israel, caused more than a dozen countries to pause funding to the agency.
However, the statement also noted that “UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures.”
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