Hostage’s parents tell him to ‘stay strong’ after video shows him missing part of arm


The parents of an Israeli hostage have told him “we love you, stay strong, survive” after he appeared with part of his arm missing in a video released by Hamas.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin was kidnapped at the Nova musical festival when Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October.

The video shows him with his lower left arm missing; witnesses said it was blown off when he helped throw grenades out of a shelter where people were hiding.

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He reportedly used his shirt as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding, but was captured.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin (middle) was one of over 200 people kidnapped. Pic: Reuters
Hersh Goldberg-Polin (middle) was one of over 200 people kidnapped. Pic: Reuters

Clearly under duress in the undated video, the 23-year-old criticises Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, saying they should be “ashamed” for not securing the hostages’ release.

He also claims Israeli bombings have killed “about 70 detainees like me” and that the rest are living in an “underground hell without water, food, or sun”.

Mr Goldberg-Polin, who wears a red shirt and sits against a plain white wall, finishes with an appeal to his parents, telling them “stay strong” and “I love you so much, and miss you so much”.

His parents responded to Wednesday’s video by filming their own emotional response.

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Jon Polin says hearing his son for the first time in more than 200 days is “overwhelming”.

“We are relieved to see him alive but we are also concerned about his health and wellbeing as well as that of all the other hostages, and all of those suffering in this region,” he says.

Mr Polin calls for the countries involved in negotiations to “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”.

His mother, Rachel Goldberg-Polin, stares resolutely into the camera and tells him: “Hersh, if you can hear his, we heard your voice today for the first time in 201 days… I am telling you – we are telling you – we love you, stay strong, survive.”

Rachel Goldberg, U.S.-Israeli mother of Hersh Goldberg Polin, which was taken hostage by Hamas militants into the Gaza Strip while attending a music festival in south Israel, holds photos of her son in their home in Jerusalem October 17, 2023 REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Rachel Goldberg holding photos of her son a few weeks after the October attack. Pic: Reuters

Friends and family continue to raise awareness of the 23-year-old's situation. Pic: Reuters
Friends and family continue to raise awareness of his captivity. Pic: Reuters

The 23-year-old was born in California but moved to Jerusalem with his family when he was younger.

He was among about 250 Israelis and foreigners kidnapped in the initial Hamas attack, which also killed around 1,200 people.

Some hostages were freed in a deal last year, but more than 100 are still unaccounted for and there is huge pressure in Israel for the government to bring them home.

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Baby saved from womb of dying mother

Israel’s aim to wipe out Hamas has so far killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health authority.

Hundreds of thousands are also said to be on the brink of starvation and have been forced to flee the violence.

Fears are growing that a ground assault on the southern city of Rafah – where more than a million people are sheltering – is imminent after Mr Netanyahu said Israel was “moving ahead” with its plans.

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