Father of Hersh Goldberg-Polin tells of tears, hope as he saw hostage son in Hamas video

Jon Polin says that until moment family saw Hersh in clip released by terror group, they could only hope that he was still alive, are now even more determined to get him out

Rachel Goldberg-Polin and Jon Polin, parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, issue a video statement pleading for a hostage deal and urging him to stay strong and survive, April 24, 2024. (Courtesy)
Rachel Goldberg-Polin and Jon Polin, parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, issue a video statement pleading for a hostage deal and urging him to stay strong and survive, April 24, 2024. (Courtesy)

Jon Polin, the father of Hamas hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin who appeared in a propaganda video published by the terror group, told the Kan public broadcaster on Thursday that the video of his son has given him and his wife Rachel Goldberg even more motivation to fight for his release.

It was the first interview Hersh’s parents have given to Israeli media since the video of their son was released by Hamas on Wednesday.

“Until yesterday, we didn’t know he was alive,” Polin told Kan. “We hoped he was, but we didn’t know.”

“We’ve been working to bring Hersh home for 200 days, and after yesterday, we feel even more strongly that we can’t stop now, we have to continue,” he said.

In the nearly three-minute-long video, Israeli-American hostage Goldberg-Polin, who is seen missing one of his hands, vociferously demands that the Israeli government return the hostages from Gaza or step down, echoing a stance increasingly voiced recently by some relatives of the abductees.

At the end of the video, Hersh addressed his family, saying he knows “you are doing everything for me to return home as soon as possible,” and asked them to stay strong for him and to keep fighting.

Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, held captive in Gaza since October 7, in a Hamas propaganda video released on April 24, 2024. (Screenshot: Telegram)

“It’s not clear who wrote what he said,” Polin said, acknowledging the high likelihood that Hersh was reading from a script written by his captors. “The part I’m focusing on is the last part, when even if he read it off a page, he spoke directly to me and Rachel, to our daughters Libby and Orly.”

Polin said he has concerns for Hersh’s health based on how he looked in the video, noting that he looked “swollen,” but said his son spoke in a clear, strong voice, which he felt was important.

“I was less concerned with what he said and more with how he said it,” he said.

The video was the first sign of life that the Goldberg-Polin family received of Hersh since October 7, when he was seen being pushed onto a Hamas pickup truck, his left arm blown off from the elbow down and wrapped in a bloody tourniquet.

“We cried, my wife and I sat and watched the video and cried,” Polin said, adding that he has watched the new video upwards of 20 times. “There were so many emotions, but at the core, for the first time in 200 days, we saw him and heard him.”

He said Israeli officials and a representative from the United States held a conference call with the family to inform them about the video about an hour before Hamas posted it to the Telegram messaging network. The family got their first viewing along with the rest of the public when it was published.

Hamas has previously issued similar videos of hostages, in what Israel says is deplorable psychological warfare. Most Israeli media, including The Times of Israel, do not usually carry the video clips themselves, but Goldberg-Polin’s family gave permission Wednesday to the media to use the video.

The video was not dated, but Goldberg-Polin says he has been held captive for “nearly 200 days” and mentions a “festival” several times, indicating it was likely filmed recently, ahead of the week-long Passover holiday, which began on Monday evening.

“I’ve been watching and watching it to draw strength from it, and also to understand what the purpose of it was – why did they release it yesterday specifically? I have no answers, but a lot of questions, and I’ll keep watching it,” his father Polin said.

Asked if he had a message for Hersh, Polin offered the mantra that, he said, his wife Rachel Goldberg repeats to herself every day: “I love you, stay strong, survive.”

After the video was published, Polin and Goldberg, who have extensively campaigned for their son’s release, said in a statement that “seeing the video of Hersh today is overwhelming. We are relieved to see him alive, but we are also concerned about his health and well-being as well as that of all the other hostages and all of those suffering in this region.”

Goldberg-Polin was abducted from the Supernova rave near Re’im on the morning of October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists invaded Israel, killed some 1,200 people, and kidnapped 253 hostages into the Strip.

It is believed that 129 of those hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 12 hostages have been recovered, including those of three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 34 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

Videos from the Hamas onslaught have shown that a part of Goldberg-Polin’s arm was blown off, as the Hamas terrorists lobbed grenades into a shelter where he and others who tried to escape the party hid.

Israel responded to the attack with a military offensive to destroy Hamas and free the hostages.

Efforts via mediators to negotiate another temporary ceasefire that would include the release of more hostages have so far failed.

After the video of Hersh was published, there was a spontaneous angry, anti-government protest near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home demanding a deal to return the hostages.

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