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Released hostages were sedated, exploited by Hamas in its propaganda war

Families of hostages, including those already released, share their ongoing distress

Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper, who were held hostages by Palestinian Hamas militants, are released by the militants, in this video screenshot obtained by Reuters on Oct. 23, 2023. (Photo: Al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas/Handout via REUTERS)

The Israeli hostages released by Hamas were being used by the terror organization in its propaganda war, according to an Israeli Health Ministry official speaking on Tuesday

Dr. Hagar Mizrahi, the head of the Health Ministry’s General Medicine Division, said that the hostages had been sedated before their release back to Israel to “make them appear happy” in the broadcasts of their release, which were shown worldwide.

During a recent hearing, Mizrahi told the Israeli Knesset Health Committee that Hamas gave the hostages vitamins and mood stabilizers so that they would “appear happy” in front of the assembled journalists from around the world.

Mizrahi also said that Hamas had committed “war crimes related to lack of proper medical care” and “cases related to feeding” but added that she could not elaborate out of concern for the remaining hostages that are still being held captive by Hamas and its accomplices in Gaza. It is already confirmed that hostages were starved by Hamas, with some losing as much as 15 kgs (33 lbs) during their captivity.

During the hearing about how Israel's Health Ministry was handling the returned captives, family members of released captives and those still held hostage were given the possibility to talk about their ordeals.

“Three hours from here, a Holocaust is unfolding. Women who were abused are not receiving treatment,” said Yizhar Lifshitz, whose 85-year-old mother Yocheved was released from Gaza. His father Oded, also 85, is still being held hostage by terrorists.

Lifshitz called on Israeli officials to take action as the condition of the captives will continue to deteriorate.

“This is a mega event, don't forget anyone. Start treating it as a mega event. Even in budgets, start allocating tens of billions in that direction, because those are the sums,” he said.

Yarden, the sister of Romi Gonen, who was kidnapped from the Nova musical festival on Oct. 7 said that the family cannot go on with the knowledge of her sister's suffering.

“We have testimonies that my sister is alive but injured and neglected. I think about how every day she's there, she lives with the knowledge that her soulmate was murdered before her eyes. Has anyone lost their soulmate right in front of them? How can we leave them there? I have no words to emphasize how much we cannot contain this anymore,” Yarden said.

The daughter of Aviva, Shir Siegal, said she could not bear to hear the testimony of her mother’s captivity since her release. Her father is still being held captive by terrorists in Gaza.

“My mother heard testimonies that I can't bear to hear. I can't listen to her talk about how they were beaten, tortured, not given medication or medical assistance. They don't give them food or water. I can't hear my mother describe what's happening there; and I need you to be my voice, my mind, because I can't function anymore. It's unreasonable that my mother returns to Israel and the only thing she cares about is that my father is still there. She told me last night: 'How can I function knowing what's happening there and my husband is still there?'” Shir said.

The mother of Yagev, who is held hostage in Gaza, Esther Buchshtab, also implored officials to do whatever they can to free the hostages.  

“As a family, we are experiencing great distress and a feeling of helplessness,” Buchshtab said. “I want to join the outcry here that the most important thing is to bring back the captives now and under any condition. They can't be left there. Above all, everyone needs to be brought back together. We hear from the captives that there is no appropriate health care; the treatment is random. If there's a bag of painkillers, they take it even for blood pressure because there's nothing suitable.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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