Hostages abducted into Gaza during Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel were drugged to keep them docile in captivity and subjected to psychological and sexual abuse, a specialist says.
“I’ve never seen anything like that” in 20 years of treating trauma victims, says Renana Eitan, director of the psychiatric division of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center.
“The physical, the sexual, the mental, the psychological abuse of these hostages that came back is just terrible,” she adds. “We have to rewrite the textbook.”
The center has received 14 ex-hostages released by Hamas, some of whom reported being drugged, including with what doctors believe were benzodiazapines, a class of depressants with a sedative effect that includes drugs like Valium.
“They wanted to control the kids, and sometimes it’s difficult to control young children, adolescents. And they know that if they drug them they will be quiet,” she adds.
“One of the girls was given ketamine for a few weeks,” she continues, referring to a powerful dissociative anesthetic known for giving the recipient a sense of detachment from their environment. “It’s unbelievable to do this to a child.”
Eitan says one patient said she and others were held in total darkness for more than four days. “They became psychotic, they had hallucinations,” Eitan says.
There are also reports of self-harm among hostages in captivity, she notes, while some returnees have since professed to having suicidal thoughts.
“But this is our mission, to make sure that such things will not happen,” she added.