'A clip no parent in the world wants to see'

After abduction clip airs, hostages’ families urge leaders to take notice, reach a deal

Parents, siblings of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Or Levy and Eliya Cohen call on government to seek an agreement for release all those held in Gaza: ‘Feel our cries are not heard’

Left to right: Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Eliya Cohen and Or Levy (Courtesy)
Left to right: Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Eliya Cohen and Or Levy (Courtesy)

The families of three Israeli hostages whose abduction by Gazan terrorists was shown in a clip released Monday said the harrowing footage should serve as a reminder to the country’s leaders that they need to bring all the captives home.

In the clip, hostages Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Or Levy, and Eliya Cohen were seen being shoved into a pickup truck and driven to the Gaza Strip on October 7 amid the massive Hamas-led attack on Israel that saw terrorists abduct 251 people and kill 1,200, mostly civilians.

All three of them were abducted from the same field bomb shelter where, along with many others, they had sought refuge during the Hamas attack.

The hostages’ families, together with the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, said they were releasing the video as evidence of the government’s abandonment of the hostages.

Parents and siblings of the three hostages gave a round of media interviews urging the government to agree to a hostage deal with Hamas.

Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin, parents of Goldberg-Polin, spoke to Channel 12 after the airing of the new clip of his capture.

“It’s a clip no parent in the world wants to see,” Polin said. “We, the parents of the hostage, don’t need a reminder. But maybe decision-makers in Israel and the world need every reminder — that we’re not just talking about the word ‘hostage,’ but about human beings, real people, with dreams, with families, with people who love them, who are waiting for them.”

Screen capture from video of Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin, parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, during an interview with Channel 12, 25 June, 2024. (Channel 12. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

“The world needs to see what happened,” Polin said. “This is what happened, this is what they experienced. It is very hard to watch but important.”

Goldberg-Polin is seen in the video clutching his tourniquet-bound arm, which had just been blown off below the elbow.

Polin said that they are in “good, constant contact” with senior officials in the US and that every time US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Israel on his diplomacy missions they are in touch with him.

As for Israeli authorities, there is “much less, and we need to demand.”

Goldberg said, “It is hard to believe that after 262 days there are still 120 people there.”

Polin rejected controversial remarks made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the previous day in which he said he was willing to agree to a hostage deal that would free only some of the captives. Polin stressed that as far as they are concerned, all the hostages held in Gaza must be brought home. Amid outcry, Netanyahu on Monday said he wants a deal for all the hostages.

Michael Levy told Channel 13 that his brother Or can be seen in the video apparently covered in the blood of his wife Eynav.

“The first thing that stood out for me in the clip was the terror in his eyes, the fear on his face. I noticed that he was covered in the blood of his wife Eynav, who was murdered on October 7. He was forced to see her murdered in front of his eyes in the field shelter.”

Screen capture from video of Michael Levy, brother of hostage Or, during an interview with Channel 13, 24 June, 2024. (Channel 13. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Their toddler son, Almog, will mark his third birthday on Tuesday without either of his parents.

“It is heartbreaking,” Michael Levy told Channel 13. “He keeps asking about [Or] and Eynav and wants to meet them, and we don’t have anything to say to him.”

“There is no way to tell something like that to such a young child. He just wants mom and dad to celebrate the birthday with him, but regretfully, that won’t happen,” he said.

Or (left) and Eynav Levy went to the Supernova desert rave on October 7; Eynav was killed and Or is considered missing (Michael Levy via AP)

The toddler is being raised by his grandparents.

“It is sad to say, but sometimes I feel that people need a reminder, that the government needs a reminder that they are still there, that they are still alive, and their time is running out,” Levy said. “I feel that our cries are not heard, that the discussion has moved to ‘a price’ [of a hostage deal]. What price is there on the life of a person? To a 3-year-old boy who celebrates his birthday without his parents, who begs to meet his father.”

Levy said that when members of the government see the video clip “I want them to look at the terror in the faces of Or, Hirsch, and Ely, that are a reminder that these people were abandoned on October 7, and that their duty is to bring them back home to their families as soon as possible.”

Sigi Cohen, mother of Eliya Cohen, 26, speaking to the Kan public broadcaster said of the terrorists in the clip: “You can see how wicked they are.”

She too rejected Netanyahu’s remarks on a partial hostage release deal.

“That would be like roulette. Who knows who would come back and who would decide,” she said.

Screen capture from video of Sigi Cohen, mother of hostage Eliya Cohen, during an interview with the Kan public broadcaster 24 June, 2024. (Kan. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Cohen said that a deal is likely the only way to free the hostages still in Gaza, though a handful have been rescued during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza to destroy Hamas.

“If only it were possible, but it isn’t,” she said. “Netanyahu needs to show leadership. My greatest fear is that the Israeli government will continue with its attitude because at the moment this isn’t a deal and it isn’t fighting. They need to decide. They can’t sit on the fence and leave us waiting.”

“Every day it gets harder,” she said. “And if that is how it is for us, who knows what it is like for our loved ones.”

Criticizing Netanyahu for his remarks on a partial deal, Cohen said, “Everyone who speaks, whether the prime ministers or anyone else, needs to understand that there are 120 families that every comment like that rocks them all over again.”

Cohen and his girlfriend Ziv Abud, along with Abud’s niece and her nephew’s girlfriend, were hiding in the field shelter. Abud’s niece and nephew’s girlfriend were killed, and Abud and Cohen were hidden under the dead bodies.

Screenshots of hostages Hersh Goldberg-Polin (left), Eliya Cohen (middle) and Or Levy (right) as they were taken hostage into Gaza by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy Hostages and Missing Families Forum)

President Isaac Herzog shared the clip on his X account writing that “alongside the unbelievable courage” shown by the hostages, “we also see the face of evil in the form of Hamas terrorists who kidnapped, raped, and murdered innocent civilians.”

“The world needs to see this cruelty, raise the cry of the abductees held in barbaric Hamas captivity, take firm measures, and stand by Israel’s side with a demand to act in any way for their release,” the president wrote.

Netanyahu said in a statement: “The shocking video of the abduction of Hersh, Or and Eliya tears all our hearts and emphasizes once again the cruelty of the enemy we swore to eliminate. We will not stop the war until we return all 120 of our loved ones home.”

One hundred and sixteen of the 251 hostages abducted by terrorists on October 7 are still held in Gaza, some of them believed to be dead. In addition, Hamas has been holding for a decade two Israelis who entered Gaza of their own accord and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

Friends of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, supporters of Hapoel Jerusalem and other Israelis call for his return and the rest of the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as they demonstrate in Jerusalem on June 24, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the main body representing many of the relatives, said in a statement: “The harsh video is a serious indictment of the neglect that has been going on for 262 days. Hersh, Eliya, and Or were kidnapped alive and so they have to return, today. Every day that passes puts the abductees at risk and may torpedo their ability to return them home.”

After the release of the clip, some 200 people gathered in Jerusalem to demonstrate on behalf of Goldberg-Polin, a dual Israel-US citizen. Among those who participated was Polin’s younger sister, the Ynet news outlet reported.

The demonstrators marched from the US Consulate in Jerusalem to Paris Square, near the prime minister’s official residence.

Protesters clashed with police who declared the rally illegal. Police set up barriers preventing access to the prime minister’s residence and the demonstration eventually dispersed.

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