Rescued hostages were beaten ‘almost every day,’ says doctor who treated them

Dr. Itai Pessach says captivity ‘left a significant mark on their health,’ with muscles wasted away and other bodily systems damaged

Itai Pessach, director of the children’s hospital at Sheba Medical Center, during a television interview (courtesy of Sheba Medical Center)
Itai Pessach, director of the children’s hospital at Sheba Medical Center, during a television interview (courtesy of Sheba Medical Center)

The doctor overseeing the recovery of four Israeli hostages rescued from the Gaza Strip said Monday that they were beaten regularly during their captivity by the Hamas terror group.

Dr. Itai Pessach of Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv told CNN that the hostages suffered almost daily abuse and that their time in captivity was “a harsh, harsh experience.”

“Every hour, both physical, mental, and other types, and that is something that is beyond comprehension,” Pessach said.

Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan, and Andrey Kozlov were rescued on Saturday from eight months of Hamas captivity in Gaza in a daring operation by Israeli forces.

According to CNN, Pessach said the eight months the hostages spent in Hamas captivity “left a significant mark on their health,” despite their outward appearance of being in good shape.

“They had no protein, so their muscles are extremely wasted, there is damage to some other systems because of that,” he said, adding that the hostages had said the supply of food and water varied, and that they were moved a few times and dealt with different guards.

Israeli hostages pictured reuniting with family after their rescue from Hamas captivity in Gaza on June 8, 2024. Top L-R: Almog Meir Jan with his family, Noa Argamani with her father. (Israel Defense Forces) Bottom L-R: Shlomi Ziv reunites with his sister and cousin (Hostages and Missing Families Forum), Andrey Kozlov meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Maayan Toaf / GPO)

“There have been periods where they got almost no food whatsoever,” Pessach said. “There were other periods where it was a little better, but all in all, the combination of the psychological stress, malnutrition or not getting enough food or not getting the right kind of food, medical neglect, being limited to space, not seeing the sun and all of the other things have [a] significant effect on health.”

Elaborating on the psychological strain, he said: “As time passes, hope of being released kind of decreases and you start wondering if this would ever end… losing that faith, I think, is where you get to the breaking point.”

Argamani, Meir Jan, Kozlov, and Ziv were abducted from the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im on the morning of October 7, when 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists killed some 1,200 people and took 251 hostages in a murderous rampage across southern Israel.

Officers of the police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit, along with Shin Bet agents, on Saturday morning simultaneously raided two multi-story buildings in the heart of Nuseirat, where the four hostages were being held by Hamas-affiliated families and guards of the terror group, according to the military.

Hamas’s government media office claimed at least 274 people were killed amid the operation, an unverified figure that also does not differentiate between combatants and civilians.

The IDF acknowledged that it killed Palestinian civilians amid the fighting, but it placed the blame on Hamas for holding hostages and fighting in a dense civilian environment. “We know about under 100 [Palestinian] casualties. I don’t know how many of them are terrorists,” IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Saturday.

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