New Testimony From Hostages Suggests Sexual Abuse by Hamas Against Israelis Still Captive at Gaza Is Rampant

‘Sexual abuse occurred on a regular basis,’ says one released hostage as crisis enters its second 100 days.

Courtesy of the family.
Chen Goldstein-Almog, rear right, in happier times. Her husband, Nadav, was killed in his home by Hamas terrorists on October 7, when they also murdered her older daughter, Yam, center rear. Chen’s surviving children, who were taken hostage with — and freed with — her are, from the left, Agam, Gal, and Tal. Courtesy of the family.

TEL AVIV – New testimony is beginning to emerge in Israel about sexual abuse being perpetrated by Hamas against the remaining female hostages — 13 or 14 of which are believed to be alive — being held by the terror group in Gaza. At the hostage headquarters in Tel Aviv, released hostage Chen Goldstein-Almog, 48, has agreed to give a rare insight and witness testimony about the young women she met in captivity.

Ms. Goldstein-Almog spent 51 days inside Gaza with her three children Agam 17, Gal 11 and Tal 9, after terrorists murdered her husband Nadav in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and shot her oldest daughter, Yam, in the face, killing her. Ms. Goldstein-Almog and her three surviving children were eventually released on November 26 as part of a temporary ceasefire deal brokered by Qatar and the United States between Hamas and Israel and ended by Hamas.

Ms. Goldstein-Almog tells The New York Sun that she saw several young women who spent 50 or more days alone. She tried to comfort them and hug them close the way a mother would, she says. “The captors took advantage of the girl’s moments of vulnerability. When the girls were sad, crying, and yearning, their captors would stroke them and touch them in their most intimate parts,” she says.

“They described even more harsh accounts of sexual abuse under gunpoint,” Ms. Goldstein-Almog says. “This sexual abuse occurred on a regular basis, not just on the day they were kidnapped.”

“Some of the girls were badly wounded and haven’t been getting the proper medical care,” she says. “Gunshot wounds, even lost limbs leaving them partly disabled. They said they can cope with the disability but not with the manner they were constantly violated. This was so difficult to hear.”

Ms. Goldstein-Almog is cautious about what she can and can’t say but believes that the young women are in grave danger if they are not released soon. “When we left, the girls were together. We don’t know if they have since been separated. That was 50 days ago. Bring them home now.”

Last week another released hostage, Aviva Siegal, 64, whose husband Keith, 62, is still a captive, testified at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. She told the Caucus for the Hostages that at one point in captivity, a younger female returned from using the restroom and looked distraught.

“I saw that she was withdrawn, quiet, and not herself,” Ms. Siegal said. “And — excuse my language — but this son of a bitch had touched her. And he didn’t even let me hug her after it happened. It’s terrible, simply terrible. I told her I was sorry.”

Aviva Siegal also says she witnessed the torture of a woman Hamas believed to be in the Israel Defense Forces. “They tortured her next to me. And I witnessed it. I witnessed what happened there. What’s happening there is simply a catastrophe. It can’t go on.”

“There were millions of stories like these,” she said. “I can go on for a week.”

On the day of the Knesset hearing, the spokesman for Israel’s government, Eylon Levy tweeted, “The Hamas Rapist Regime is physically and sexually abusing the vulnerable hostages in its Terror Dungeons. We are fighting to save them.  If you think we should abandon them there, just get out of our way.”

At the “100 days of Hell” rally at Hostage Square in Tel Aviv, Ms. Goldstein-Almog’s 17-year-old daughter Agam, who was with her mother in captivity the whole time, read out an open letter to the remaining hostages.

“My friends, how are you? Have you eaten enough today? How are your spirits? Do you have anything left to talk about? Are you together? Or did they separate you? Did he hurt you once again? Did he once ask if you were married, if you wanted a marriage arrangement in Gaza? He once again entered your shower, stripped you of the pajamas he gave you. He touched the bullet wound he shot. It hurts you but his control hurts more. Your body is his, that’s how he treated you.”

In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Almog said that other hostages had told her and her mother “with great difficulty and tears” that they had endured sexual assault. 

A professor who is head of the medical team of the Hostages Families Forum, Hagai Levine, tells the Sun that pregnancy is a concern.

“We are afraid that women in captivity are pregnant and now after 3 months it is difficult to treat the pregnancy itself and the mental implications,” Mr. Levine says. “Our medical reports on hostages are based on direct testimonials from returnees and their medical professionals. They reveal sexual assault — against men and women, as well as mental and physical torture. This is a crime against humanity.”

The Sheba Medical Centre’s Dr. Itai Pessach, whose team examined many of the returnees told “CBS News Sunday Morning” that there were also stories of hostages being branded in the same manner Nazis did during the Holocaust to Jews and concentration camp victims.

“Yes, we did see signs of branding,” Mr. Pessach said. “We definitely saw signs of being handcuffed. We did hear and see evidence of sexual abuse in a significant part of the people we have treated. We also heard evidence — and that was one of the hardest parts — of abuse against those that (are still there), both physical and sexual.”

A letter sent on January 9 by eight Nobel Laureates to the heads of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and The World Health Organisation urged them to take immediate action. The organizations have come under fire by the hostage families for not doing enough to free them and for double standards when it comes to Israelis.

The letter focuses on an 11-page report prepared by Professor Levine and other members of the Medical and Resilience Team of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

“If no medical care is provided urgently for all hostages, the result could be irreversible health problems at best and death at worst. The testimonies of the survivors who were released reveal extreme cases of psychological and physical violence, including brutal sexual assault, mutilation, torture, starvation, and forced dehydration. As each day passes, the health and lives of all hostages are seriously endangered.” 

Concerns about the torture drew widespread attention last year when the matter was cited by the State Department as a reason for the collapse of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas three months ago. Over 100 hostages were released, mainly women and children. 

Each Israeli was exchanged for three Palestinian prisoners. Hamas reneged on the deal, however, when it refused to honor an agreement to release the remaining females and said they could not find the two remaining children — Kfir Bibas, who will turn one on Thursday, and his brother, Ariel, age 4. 

The spokesman of the American State Department, Matthew Miller, told reporters that the reason Hamas continues to hold women and children hostages and the fact that the pause fell apart is that Hamas fears “those women” might be “able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody.”

Mr. Miller was responding to a question from a reporter about growing evidence of Hamas rape and sexual abuse on October 7. “Certainly, there is very little that I would put beyond Hamas when it comes to its treatment of civilians and particularly its treatment of women.” Reports and testimony on sexual violence and rape committed during the onslaught on October 7 itself have also been widely documented.


Correction: Agam is the name of Ms. Goldstein-Almog’s 17-year-old daughter. The name was given incorrectly in a sentence in the bulldog edition.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  Create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use