‘Keep waving’: Daily Hamas propaganda clips show freed hostages’ forced goodbyes

Demonstrating that the gestures are made under duress, one of the videos failed to edit out gunman’s orders; many released abductees have family and friends still held in Gaza

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

A Hamas propaganda video of the terror group releasing hostages in Gaza, late November 25, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
A Hamas propaganda video of the terror group releasing hostages in Gaza, late November 25, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

It has become something of a daily ritual.

On each of the days of the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that started Friday, as the Palestinian terror group released a small daily group of hostages — among the total of some 240 it kidnapped during its murderous onslaught on October 7 — it has also issued propaganda footage of the abductees smiling and waving goodbye to the captors who have held them for some 50 days.

The clips appear to be an attempt by Hamas to show the world it has been and is treating the hostages humanely. Some pro-Palestinian activists have been using them to try and make that point, but many others have ridiculed this message, pointing out that the gestures were clearly demanded by the captors and made under duress.

The released hostages were aware that others remained in Gaza.

Many have immediate family members, other relatives or close friends still in the clutches of Gazan terrorists, and would therefore be worried that failing to comply with the Hamas demand could cause retribution against their loved ones.

Additionally, the gestures have appeared to be coming at a stage when the hostages can’t be certain that they have been set free and may not know whether refusing to wave would hinder the process.

Demonstrating that the gestures aren’t spontaneous expressions of gratitude and that the Israelis are being intimidated, the producer of Sunday’s Hamas propaganda clip appeared to have accidentally forgotten to edit out the voice of the gunman ordering the hostages to “keep waving.”

While most of the hostages have returned relatively physically unharmed, the vast majority have lost weight and testified to enduring difficult conditions in captivity.

One freed hostage, 84-year-old Elma Avraham, was returned in critical condition and is fighting for her life, after the Hamas captors failed to supply her with vital daily medications for some 50 days.

Avraham’s daughter made an impassioned address to the media on Monday, accusing the Red Cross of abandoning her mother by refusing to deliver the drugs to her.

Hamas and fellow Gazan terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad have also published propaganda clips of hostages while in captivity, showing them criticizing the Israeli government in remarks that were almost certainly dictated by the terrorists holding them.

And in one particularly cruel case, Hamas appears to have forced released hostage Danielle Aloni, who was set free on Friday along with her 5-year-old daughter Emilia, to write a lengthy letter thanking the Hamas terrorists for “extraordinary humanity” and saying her daughter had “felt like a queen in Gaza.” At the time she wrote the letter, Aloni had multiple family members still held by Gazan terrorists.

In total, Hamas has released over 50 women and children from among the roughly 240 hostages kidnapped during the unprecedented October 7 assault, in which thousands of terrorists crossed the border and massacred some 1,200 people, most of them civilians butchered in their homes and at a music festival.

The deal for an ongoing ceasefire was reached last week, with Israel also releasing female and underage Palestinian security prisoners convicted or accused of terror offenses. The initial four-day deal has expired, but it has been extended by at least two days, with Hamas set to free 10 more abductees on each additional day.

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