“Maybe I was naïve, but I wanted to hope that they were treating him well,” said Dvora Cohen, whose nephew, Eitan Yahalomi, was held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. “I was wrong. They are monsters.”
The aunt of an Israeli boy who was held hostage by Hamas in Gaza said on Tuesday that while in captivity he was forced to watch videos of the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre, and that he and the other child hostages were threatened at gunpoint when they cried.
Eitan Yahalomi, 12, a dual Israeli-French citizen, was released on Monday, 52 days after his abduction.
His father, Ohad, who was shot during a gun battle with the Hamas terrorists, is still being held in Gaza.
“Every time one of the children cried, they threatened him at gunpoint in order to silence him,” Dvora Cohen told France’s BFM TV. “The Hamas terrorists forced him to watch films of the horrors, the kind that no one wants to see, they forced him to watch them.”
She also revealed that when he was brought to Gaza, Yahalomi was beaten by Palestinian civilians.
“He is a 12-year-old boy,” she said. “We’re talking about a child of 12.”
Her comments came after Hamas has repeatedly distributed video to the international media showing them waving goodbye to the released hostages and escorting them to the buses waiting to take them to freedom.
Israel has warned that such images are psychological warfare.
“Maybe I was naïve, but I wanted to hope that they [Hamas] were treating him well,” said Cohen. “I was wrong. They are monsters.”
Meanwhile, the father of a 9-year-old girl released by Hamas on Saturday says she thought she had been in captivity for a year and now cries herself to sleep.
“The most shocking, disturbing part of meeting her was she was just whispering. You couldn’t hear her. I had to put my ear on her lips,” Thomas Hand told CNN of his daughter Emily. “She’d been conditioned not to make any noise.”
He says he asked her how long she thought she had been a hostage and she replied “a year.”
“Apart from the whispering, that was a punch in the guts. A year,” he said.
“Last night she cried until her face was red and blotchy, she couldn’t stop. She didn’t want any comfort, I guess she’s forgotten how to be comforted,” said Hand. “She went under the covers of the bed, the quilt, covered herself up and quietly cried.”
Emily was at a sleepover at a friend’s house at the time of the Hamas assault on Oct. 7. She was initially reported killed, but it was later announced that she was among the hostages.
Emily’s mother died of cancer several years ago.