‘Please help me hug my daughter again’: Hamas hostage’s mom makes impassioned plea to UN

Her voice shaking with emotion, Meirav Leshem Gonen describes to the UN Human Rights Council the agony of listening over the phone as Hamas terrorists kidnapped her daughter on October 7.

Her daughter, 23-year-old Romi Gonen, “was terrified, and I felt utterly helpless as I listened to her suffering,” she says. “Please help me hug my daughter again.”

Her appeal comes as the top UN rights body in Geneva convenes to debate a scathing report holding Israel and Hamas responsible for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in its offensive in Gaza, launched in response to the Palestinian terror group’s mass onslaught.

The report by the independent Commission of Inquiry has highlighted in particular the plight of women caught up in the attack, decrying that “women and women’s bodies were used as victory trophies by male perpetrators.”

Israel has been vehemently critical of the report, and Leshem Gonen herself charged that it “trivializes the severity of sexual violence experienced by women in captivity.

“I stand before you today not just as a mother, but also as a voice for women who have endured unimaginable suffering, whose pain is not acknowledged,” she says. “When women’s bodies are used as political tools, when their dignity is set aside because they are not on the ‘right side,’ it is a badge of shame for us all.”

Leshem Gonen describes the agony that she and other hostages’ families feel.

Her daughter was fleeing by car from the Supernova music festival on October 7 when it was ambushed by Hamas gunmen.

During the attack she phoned her mother, who tried to comfort her above the din of explosions.

“She was brutally dragged by her long, beautiful hair from the car, along the road,” Leshem Gonen says, describing “hearing her helplessness and frustration without being able to help my baby. That was 257 days ago.”

“We owe all hostages still held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza to do all in our power to release them immediately,” she says. “I owe it to Romi, and so does the international community.”

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