Doctor who treated freed Hamas hostages describes physical, sexual and psychological abuse
Doctor who treated freed Hamas hostages describes physical, sexual and psychological abuse CBS News
About 100 Israeli Hostages Released After Hamas Raid
Approximately 100 Israeli hostages, who were kidnapped during the deadly Hamas raid on Israel, have been released after more than 50 days in captivity. Dr. Itai Pessach, the director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv, revealed that his team interviewed and examined many of the freed hostages. He stated that the hostages were brought to the medical center regardless of their willingness to come.
Buffering the Effects of Captivity
Dr. Pessach explained that the medical team anticipated the need for a buffer for the hostages due to their time in captivity. They had been underground, in the dark, with very little food, and under significant psychological stress. The team recognized the importance of providing support and care to help them recover from their traumatic experience.
“We have to remember that these people have not been around since October 7,” Dr. Pessach emphasized.
Breaking the Bad News
For some of the hostages, returning home was not an option. Dr. Pessach had the difficult task of informing them about their situation. He described it as one of the largest challenges they faced. The hostages would look around the room and realize that someone was missing, and the medical team had to be prepared to handle their emotional reactions.
The Devastating Situation in Gaza
Aside from a brief cease-fire, Gaza has experienced constant bombardment from Israel, resulting in widespread destruction. Half of the population in Gaza is facing severe hunger and dire living conditions.
Suffering from PTSD
Dr. Pessach believes that both Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the ongoing conflict. He emphasized that events like these take a toll on individuals, regardless of which side they are on.
Misleading Perception of Physical Abuse
Contrary to television pictures that suggested the freed hostages had not been physically abused, Dr. Pessach stated that these images were deceptive. He clarified that every person who returned had significant physical injuries or medical problems. Additionally, some of them were given medication to make them appear better than they actually were.
Branding and Sexual Abuse
There were reports of hostages being branded, a practice reminiscent of the treatment inflicted on Jews and other prisoners in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. Dr. Pessach confirmed the presence of branding and handcuff marks on the hostages. He also stated that a significant number of the people they treated showed signs of sexual abuse. Disturbingly, they also heard evidence of ongoing abuse against those who were still captive, both physically and sexually.
Dr. Pessach revealed that the hostages endured psychological torture, including being told that Israel no longer existed. He described how well-prepared the Hamas terrorists were in inflicting psychological torment. They constantly undermined the hostages’ sense of security by saying that nobody cared about them and that they were alone. This psychological manipulation played with their minds.
“There have been some episodes where they separated two family members, and then put them back together, then separated them, then put them back together. And so, as a parent, you would do anything to have your child with you, even when you are in captivity,” Dr. Pessach explained.
No Protocol for Treatment
Upon the hostages’ return, there was no established protocol for their treatment. Dr. Pessach stated that they had to make it up as they went along. Unfortunately, they have become the world experts in receiving people who have been held hostage.
Don’t miss Lesley Stahl’s interview with freed hostages on “60 Minutes”
Lesley Stahl will be interviewing the freed hostages on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, December 17. The interview will provide further insight into their experiences and the challenges they face after their release.
Story produced by Mary Raffalli. Editor: George Pozderec.
Israel & Hamas At War
For more information on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, please visit the following link:
About the Author
Lesley Stahl is one of America’s most recognized and experienced broadcast journalists. She has been a correspondent for 60 Minutes since 1991.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- Target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
- Indicator: Number of people affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of traumatic events.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
- Target 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
- Indicator: Number of cases of sexual abuse reported or observed among the hostages.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Target 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.
- Indicator: Number of cases of physical abuse reported or observed among the hostages.
|SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
|Target 3.4: By 2030, reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
|Number of people affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of traumatic events.
|SDG 5: Gender Equality
|Target 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
|Number of cases of sexual abuse reported or observed among the hostages.
|SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
|Target 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.
|Number of cases of physical abuse reported or observed among the hostages.
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