Parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin hope video of son heartens other families

Rachel Goldberg-Polin says her son doesn’t look like himself in footage released Wednesday; Jon Polin says he would prefer a hostage deal over Rafah op

Jon Polin (left) and Rachel Goldberg-Polin, parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, speak to Channel 12 news, April 25, 2024. (Channel 12 screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Jon Polin (left) and Rachel Goldberg-Polin, parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, speak to Channel 12 news, April 25, 2024. (Channel 12 screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The parents of Israeli-American Hamas hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who appeared in a propaganda video published by the terror group, said Thursday that the footage might give hope to other families that their loved ones are still alive.

“He is speaking to us. You can call it propaganda. It was really important for us to see and hear it, and to share it with other people, with other families, maybe to give them some encouragement,” Jon Polin, Hersh’s father, told Channel 12 news.

In the nearly three-minute-long video released Wednesday, 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 addresses his family, saying he knows “you are doing everything for me to return home as soon as possible,” and asks them to stay strong for him and to keep fighting.

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.

The parents described the experience of seeing the first sign of life from their son in over half a year as “emotional.”

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)

“We were extremely overwhelmed,” Rachel told Channel 12. “We were both crying. And just seeing him, I think I kept saying, poor boy, poor boy, poor boy.”

“And to see his wound, it’s now a permanent disability, it’s hard as a parent,” she continued.

For them, the video “strengthens the hope.”

“On the other hand, as parents, who know him well, we look at him and see…” Jon said before he trailed off.

“He doesn’t look like himself,” Rachel continued.

Related: ‘Stay strong,’ parents urge Hersh Goldberg-Polin after Hamas airs propaganda clip

Jon said the couple was both worried and hopeful for their son, but that anger was not an emotion he considered helpful.

“We have the most important task in our life, and we need, every day, all day, to focus. What helps us is what leads us to the sole objective of returning Hersh and all the hostages,” he said.

After receiving the video, the two said, they “slept much worse” than before, although it gave them a sign that Hersh was still alive.

A poster calling for the release of Hamas hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin is seen outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, April 24, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

“It’s interesting. People wrote to us things like congratulations, and we said, it’s great there’s a sign of life, but it’s not the end of the road,” Jon said.

“We have failed as parents. You know, our role as parents is when your child gets in danger, you have to save them. And we’ve been trying so hard, for 202 days, and we have failed,” Rachel said.

“It’s such a stark reminder. We didn’t need it, but the world maybe did, that we’re talking about people, and we all need to act. We need to act right now, to end this story,” Jon said.

He added that he would prefer a deal for the hostages’ release over a looming military incursion into Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. Israel says victory in the Gaza war is impossible without taking Rafah, where Israel believes many hostages are held and where Hamas still has four operational battalions.

Asked if he trusted decision-makers on the matter, he said: “It is what it is. We need to deal with what we have.”

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)

Speaking about the video at a press conference Thursday, the Goldberg-Polins said that the families of the hostages “don’t need a reminder about what they are fighting for, we think about our loved ones 24/7.”

“We saw Hersh yesterday, and despite that, we don’t need a reminder, we hope that this is a reminder to the negotiators — you are discussing real people, flesh and blood,” they said.

The conference was held after US President Joe Biden led a joint statement from the leaders of 18 countries with citizens held hostage by Hamas, calling on the terror group to immediately release them from Gaza.

Demonstrators protest for the release of hostages held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7, outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, following the release of a video by Hamas of Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, April 24, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Hamas has previously released 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.

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.

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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