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Hamas releases video showing well-known Israeli-American hostage

Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hamas released a hostage video on Wednesday showing a well-known Israeli-American man who was among scores of people abducted by the militants in the attack that ignited the war in Gaza.

The video was the first sign of life of Hersh Goldberg-Polin since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, and its release ignited new protests in Jerusalem calling on the government to do more to secure the captives’ release.

In the video, Goldberg-Polin accused Israel’s government of abandoning the people who are being held hostage by Hamas. He also claimed that some 70 captives have been killed in Israel’s bombing campaign. Goldberg-Polin was clearly speaking under duress, and the claim could not be independently verified. It was not clear when the video was made.

Goldberg-Polin, 23, was at the Tribe of Nova music festival when Hamas launched its attack from nearby Gaza. In the video, Goldberg-Polin is missing part of his left arm.

Witnesses said he lost it when attackers tossed grenades into a shelter where people had taken refuge. He had tied a tourniquet around it before being bundled into the truck by Hamas.

Goldberg-Polin is one of the most recognized captives. Posters with his image are pinned up across Israel. His mother, Rachel Goldberg, has met with world leaders and addressed the United Nations.

Though there was no date on the video, Goldberg-Polin appeared to reference the weeklong Jewish holiday of Passover, which began on Monday.

His parents said they were relieved to see him alive but were concerned about his health and well-being, as well as that of the other hostages.

“We are here today with a plea to all of the leaders of the parties who have been negotiating to date,” said his father, Jon Polin, naming Egypt, Israel, Qatar, the United States and Hamas.

“Be brave, lean in, seize this moment and get a deal done to reunite all of us with our loved ones and end the suffering in this region,” he said.

Hostages’ families have accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of not doing enough to secure the release of their relatives.

After the Hamas video was made public, hundreds of Israelis gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence in central Jerusalem on Wednesday, calling on the government to strike a deal to bring home hostages. Many held posters of Goldberg-Polin, and some of the protesters set cardboard boxes on fire.

“We are afraid for his life, so we went to protest and call for the government to do whatever is possible to bring him and everybody else back, as soon as possible,” said one of the marchers, Nimrod Madrer. “Bring them back home,” the crowd chanted.

At the nearby Great Synagogue, a large crowd jeered the country’s ultranationalist national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, chanting “shame” as he exited the building following a Passover gathering. One protester banged on Ben-Gvir’s car and was pushed away by police as it drove off.

Hamas and other militants abducted around 250 people in the Oct. 7 attack and killed around 1,200, mostly civilians. They are still believed to be holding around 100 hostages and the remains of some 30 others. Most of the rest were freed in November in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, said Goldberg-Polin’s family had asked mediators to inquire about his fate for humanitarian reasons.

His family was “searching the world for any sign of him,” al-Hayya said in an interview with Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV broadcast on Wednesday. Hamas’ armed wing ”sent a strong message by publishing this young man’s message directed at Netanyahu,” al-Hayya said.

The U.S., Qatar and Egypt have spent months trying to broker another cease-fire and hostage release, but the talks appear to have stalled. Hamas has said it will not release the remaining hostages unless Israel ends the war, which has killed over 34,000 Palestinians, according to local officials.

Netanyahu has rejected those demands, and says Israel remains committed to destroying Hamas and bringing all the hostages home. He has come under mounting criticism in Israel, where some say it will be impossible to do both.


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