American-Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin is seen alive in apparently recent video released by Hamas
Hersh Goldberg-Polin appears to acknowledge the advocacy of his family in a hostage video released by Hamas on April 24, 2024. (Screenshot)

JTA Staff Report
April 24, 2024

(JTA) — Hamas has released a video showing one of the remaining American-Israelis that the terror group is holding hostage in Gaza, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, calling for the Israeli government to strike a deal to release the remaining hostages.

Goldberg-Polin, 23, was abducted Oct. 7 from the site of the Nova music festival after having his hand blown off by a Hamas grenade. His parents, Rachel Goldberg-Polin and Jon Polin, have become some of the most prominent advocates for the hostages; Rachel has met with Pope Francis, Zoomed with President Joe Biden and spoken at the United Nations. Last week, she was named to Time magazine’s list of 100 “most influential people” of 2024.

Hersh was filmed climbing into a Hamas vehicle at the Nova festival, where his best friend was killed after saving others who sheltered with them. But there had been no public signs of life since, including in reports from hostages who were released as part of a temporary ceasefire in November.

The exact date when the video was filmed is not clear, but several references suggest that it was made recently. In the video, Goldberg-Polin, whose missing left hand is visible, says it has been almost 200 days — Wednesday is the 201st day since Oct. 7 — and references an upcoming holiday.

“It won’t be a happy holiday for me, but I wish one for you,” he says in Hebrew, with English and Arabic subtitles. Jews around the world have prayed for the freedom of the hostages in conjunction with Passover, which started Monday night.

Goldberg-Polin also calls on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign after failing to strike a ceasefire deal with Hamas. Hamas has so far rejected every deal offered, though talks are ongoing.

Hostage videos are produced under obvious duress, and their release is widely considered a form of psychological warfare by Hamas. But they have also offered the only public signs of life for the hostages since Oct. 7. The new one comes at a time when reports have suggested that a larger number of hostages could be dead than previously confirmed. Goldberg-Polin says in the video that Israeli bombings had killed 70 “detainees like me.”

Israeli media typically does not publish hostage videos, but the Goldberg-Polin family endorsed the release of the video showing Hersh, who can be seen missing part of his left arm, according to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a group that formed after Oct. 7 to advocate for the hostages.

“Hersh’s cry is the collective cry of all the hostages — their time is rapidly running out. With each passing day, the fear of losing more innocent lives grows stronger,” the group said in a statement. “We cannot afford to waste any more time; the hostages must be the top priority. All the hostages must be brought home — those alive to begin the process of rehabilitation, and those murdered for a dignified burial. This distressing video serves as an urgent call to take swift and decisive action to resolve this horrific humanitarian crisis and ensure the safe return of our loved ones.”

A “Bring Them Home Now” poster featuring Hiersh Polin-Goldberg. (Hostages and Missing Families Forum)

In the video, Goldberg-Polin concludes with what he says is “the most important thing”: a message for his parents and sisters. His comments suggest that he is aware of the family’s advocacy.

“I know you are doing your best to get me home as soon as possible,” he says, adding, “I expect and hope to see you very soon.”

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