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

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

Title: Surviving the Tunnels of Hell: A Mother’s Account of Being Held Captive by Hamas

An Israeli mother, Chen Almog-Goldstein, who was taken hostage by Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 attacks, has shared her harrowing experience of being held captive after witnessing the brutal murder of her husband and eldest daughter. In an exclusive interview with CNN, she described the emotional abuse and harrowing conditions she and her surviving children endured during their 51-day ordeal.

Hamas kidnapped Chen along with her surviving children while they were hiding in a safe room during the attacks. They were held in both tunnels and an apartment in Gaza until their release as part of a prisoner swap for Palestinian detainees during a four-day truce.

“They humiliated us, sometimes mocking us,” Chen recounted to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “They told us that we had been forgotten, that the only important thing for Israel was fighting.”

The Traumatic Loss and Kidnapping

Chen’s husband, Nadav Almog, and her oldest daughter, Yam, were brutally murdered by Hamas gunmen who broke into their home near the border with Gaza on October 7. To protect her family during the shooting, Chen took Yam’s large teddy bear and placed it on top of them, hoping it would shield them from the gunfire. However, within seconds, Nadav was shot point-blank in the chest, and her daughter was shot in the face. Chen was then forcibly taken along with her three surviving children, leaving them in shock and grief.

The Emotional Toll of Captivity

Chen and her children were not allowed to cry or express their emotions during captivity. Their captors wanted them to appear happy, even taking selfies while driving back to Gaza with the family. They were held in cramped conditions and survived on limited water and food each day, fearing they would be killed either by their captors or during the intense bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces.

The Fate of Hostages and the Search for Peace

Approximately 99 people are believed to still be held captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of 31 deceased hostages. Israel is advocating for their release. The family discussed religion and tried to keep an amicable relationship with their captors, often seeing them cry about their own concerns for their wives and writing letters. Chen urged the release of all remaining hostages and asked Amanpour, “Are we, as a society and the world, doing everything for them? I can testify that it is hell there.”

A grim reminder of the ongoing conflict, more than 30,000 people have died in Gaza since Israel’s war against Hamas five months ago. Recent diplomatic efforts to establish a ceasefire and release the remaining hostages have been met with frustration, with two American officials admitting on Thursday that the prospects of reaching a temporary truce by Ramadan early next week are not promising. “Hope is fading,” one US official stated.