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Former Israeli Hostages Recount Sexual Abuse by Hamas Terrorists as Families Plead for Action




In an emotional hearing at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, former hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza recounted harrowing tales of sexual harassment and abuse, as families of those still held captive pleaded for the Israeli government to do more to secure their release.

“As hard as it is to say, every girl there goes through sexual harassment one way or another,” said Mia Regev, who was freed in November after 50 days in captivity. Fighting back tears, she urged lawmakers to take action, saying, “Your job is to bring them back home.”

Sharon Aloni-Cunio, also released in November, said “the fear is endless” for female captives. “To be a woman in captivity is to be in constant fear; it can’t be described in words,” she told the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women’s Status and Gender Equality. “The terrorist is the sole arbiter of your fate.”

She added: “The feeling of helplessness is one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Each moment feels never-ending and every movement of the terrorists causes stomach cramping because who knows what might happen.”

Mothers and sisters of the remaining hostages stood with their loved ones’ pictures outside the committee room, some of them wearing clothes that appeared to be stained with blood. Liri Albag’s mother, Shira, said at the start of the hearing, “She’s in hell. Does anyone understand what it means to be in hell?”

“Our daughters experience daily suffering there. They are harmed in body and soul. My Liri was, and still is — I don’t know because I have no information about her — a slave in the homes of Gazans,” she said.

“All the decision-makers — you need to understand that every day you witness the rape that happens in Gaza,” she continued. “These girls are raped daily and everyone ignores them. You close your eyes. I hear Liri every day screaming for help: ‘Mom, save me already.’ Liri’s soul is crushed, and I cannot speak about what has happened to her body.”

Yaffa Ohad, the aunt of Noa Argamani, attended the hearing instead of Argamani’s mother, who is dying of cancer. Ohad fainted during the hearing and required medical attention. Before she fainted, Ohad said since the testimony of Amit Soussana, the first hostage to go public with her testimony of sexual torture during her captivity, had “wiped the family out. The thoughts will not leave us alone.”

Soussana, a 40-year-old lawyer from Kfar Aza, told the New York Times that her Hamas captor forced her to perform a “sexual act on him” at gunpoint among other incidents of sexual assault, in a child’s bedroom.

Ohad also said that, due to the recently released confession of a Palestinian terrorist who said he raped Israeli women, “our days and nights have been intolerable.”

Several other family members also provided disturbing testimony about the abuse their loved ones may be enduring. Yarden Gonen, sister of hostage Romi Gonen, cited testimonies from first responders and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who found evidence showing that on Oct. 7 the terrorists were following orders permitting escalating levels of brutality against hostages over time, including rape.

“Women and men bound naked, burned alive, not just a few, a recurring pattern,” she said. “The terrorists came with notes tucked inside their vests. Inside the note was scribed, ‘If there is no time, just kill. But if you have more time, inflict a maim and then kill. Have a little more time? Torture and then kill. A little more time? Burn them alive and then kill them. If you have ample time, rape as long as you desire because it is permitted and it vindicates the resistance.'”

Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,200 people and took 253 others as hostages during their Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Over 100 hostages were released in November as part of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas brokered by foreign mediators.

Tuesday’s hearing underscored the mounting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to strike a deal with Hamas for the release of the civilians and soldiers still held in Gaza. Some relatives accused officials of failing to act with sufficient urgency as the 134 hostages approach 200 days since their captivity.

No government ministers attended the session.

“We have all been exposed to the testimonies. We need to bring them home. It is in our hands,” committee chairwoman Pnina Tamano-Shata said.

While the focus was on the plight of female hostages, families said male captives also face severe mistreatment.

The UN concluded in a report released last month that there is “clear and convincing information” that Hamas is perpetrating sexual violence against hostages in Gaza. The same UN report also found that Hamas likely committed widespread acts of gang-rape and torture against women on Oct. 7.

Mounting evidence has documented Hamas’ systematic use of torture and sexual violence, including mass rape, against the Israeli people during the onslaught.