November 30, 2023

The Ordeal of the Israeli Hostages

While a traumatized little girl is reunited with her family, many other hostages and their families await an uncertain fate.

Soon after the barbaric October 7 attack by Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians, Thomas Hand learned that his eight-year-old daughter Emily had been killed at the kibbutz where she’d spent the night with friends.

“I was sort of relieved,” he told the Associated Press, “because I’d rather that than have her taken hostage. The way they told me was Emily has been found. She was found in the kibbutz, and she’d been found dead. I’ll never forget those three statements.”

Imagine thinking the unimaginable — that because of the barbarism of your little girl’s would-be captors, you’re relieved to know that she’s dead.

All that changed on October 31, however, when Hand was informed by the Israeli military that Emily’s body had not been recovered at the kibbutz. Nor was her blood found there among the many dead. “I had to shift my whole brain,” said Hand, “and digest this new information.”

Then, finally, miraculously, Emily Hand came home. On Tuesday, having recently spent her ninth birthday in captivity, she was among a group of 13 Israelis and four Thais released by Hamas on the second day of the Gaza ceasefire.

“Emily has come back to us,” said her Dublin-born dad. “We can’t find the words to describe our emotions after 50 challenging and complicated days. We are overjoyed to embrace Emily again, but at the same time, we remember all the hostages who have yet to return. We will persist in doing everything in our power to bring them back home.”

Clearly, there’s cause for relief and rejoicing in Israel, as the continuing ceasefire affords the release of one handful of hostages after another. But there’s also cause for remorse and rage as some families continue to mourn their dead while others now learn how their loved ones were taken and treated during nearly two months of captivity at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

“Last night she cried until her face was red and blotchy, she couldn’t stop,” said Emily’s dad following his daughter’s first night of freedom. “She didn’t want any comfort, I guess she’s forgotten how to be comforted. She went under the covers of the bed, the quilt, covered herself up and quietly cried. 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. She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”

We don’t know precisely what Emily endured, but, as Israel’s Yeshiva World reports, “The hostages were beaten with sticks as they were abducted and many of them had bleeding wounds.” They were malnourished, too, with one of them having lost 44 pounds. And they were moved from place to place.

We also know that their Hamas captors played cynically for the cameras. “On the day of the release of the first group of hostages,” Yeshiva World continues, “the terrorists told [their captives] that they were going to be released and returned to Israel. In order to create a false impression that the hostages were well-cared for, the terrorists brought them new clothing — after 50 days of no showers and wearing the same clothing.”

It’s worse. As Legal Insurrection reports: “Abducted women were kept in cages. Hostages, including children, were beaten and deprived of food, the Israeli media reports. At least in one instance, Hamas abductors forced Israeli hostages, including a 12-year-old child, to watch the horrific videos of October 7 atrocities.”

In addition, as The Jerusalem Post reports, one hostage, a mother, was forced to write a letter thanking Hamas for its “extraordinary humanity” toward her daughter, who “felt like a queen.”

Largely silent during this lengthy ordeal are many of the women’s groups that typically sound off whenever women are mistreated, and especially when women are raped as a weapon of war. As National Review’s Noah Rothman writes, “Western organizations supposedly devoted to women’s issues have spent the weeks since the 10/7 massacre of Israeli civilians — a slaughter that featured the methodical rape, abuse, and torture of Hamas’s female victims — laying low.”

Rothman’s reporting is grim, even gruesome. And it makes one wonder: Why does the cat have the tongues of these leftist women’s groups? What is it about Hamas that makes their crimes against women somehow more tolerable? Could it be because their victims are Israeli women — “occupiers” and “oppressors”?

Little Emily Hand is home, but we suspect her ordeal has left her permanently scarred. How could it not? The same goes for each of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas. And how can any group of any political affiliation not loudly and repeatedly condemn what these Hamas barbarians have done, and continue to do?

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