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Boy Held by Hamas ‘Forced to Watch Videos of 7 October Attacks’, Says Aunt

A 12-year-old boy who was held hostage in Gaza for 52 days was forced in captivity to watch videos of the 7 October atrocities, his aunt has claimed.

Eitan Yahalomi, a French-Israeli national, was kidnapped from the Nir Oz kibbutz with his father, Ohad Yahalomi, who remains captive.

The schoolboy was pictured being hugged by his mother, Batsheva, on Monday night, hours after he was released as part of a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.

His aunt, Deborah Cohen, said that Eitan suffered “horrors” at the hands of Hamas and described them as “monsters”.

She told France’s BFM TV: “Hamas forced him to watch films of the horrors, the kind that no one wants to see, they forced him to watch them.

“Every time a child cried, they would threaten him with a weapon to shut him up.”

She added: “I wanted to believe that Eitan would be well treated. Apparently not. Those people are monsters.”

Eitan’s whole family, including his mother and two sisters, aged 10 and 20 months, were abducted on what some in Israel now refer to as “Black Saturday”. His father was wounded in an exchange of fire and taken to Gaza, while his mother and sisters managed to escape.

When Eitan arrived in Gaza, he was reportedly hit by civilians, according to his aunt who spoke to his mother. “When he arrived in Gaza, civilians hit him. He is a 12-year-old child,” Cohen said.

The account came as released hostages began detailing their time in captivity and the two sides agreed to extend the existing ceasefire by two days. The hostages have been undergoing physical and psychological tests at Israeli hospitals before returning home.

Ruti Munder, 78, said she was kept in a “suffocating” room and slept on plastic chairs with a sheet for nearly 50 days.

She was freed with her daughter, Keren, and grandson, Ohad Munder-Zichri, who celebrated his ninth birthday in captivity. Her husband Avraham, 78, who was abducted from Nir Oz, remains captive.

In one of the first interviews with a freed hostage, Munder told Israel’s Channel 13 television that initially they ate “chicken with rice, all sorts of canned food and cheese”.

They were given tea in the morning and evening, and the children were given sweets, but the food changed when “the economic situation was not good, and people were hungry”, she said.

At a press conference in London, her nephew, Shahar Mor, also spoke of the conditions in which the family were held.

He said: “There are some aspects that you can say were fair; they ate with their captors. The captors made food and everybody ate, so everybody ate the same food. They tried to give them as much food as possible but food was getting scarcer and scarcer as weeks went by and getting flour was getting harder … And they gave them a deck of cards so they could pass the time, so there were some humane gestures.”

But he pointed out that Hamas had also killed his cousin, Roee, who is Ruti’s son. “They could have given my cousin life’s instead of taking it. That’s more important than a deck of cards or a bowl of rice,” he said.

Israel has sworn repeatedly to secure the release of all the 240 hostages taken by Hamas last month. Details about the hostages’ ordeal have mostly come through relatives.

Two Israeli TV stations, Channels 12 and 13, reported that Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, visited the hostages in a tunnel and assured them they would not be harmed, according to the Associated Press.

“You are safest here. Nothing will happen to you,” he was quoted as saying in the identical reports, which did not reveal the source of the account.

Hamas announced on Monday it had agreed to extend the four-day truce, after the intervention of Qatar and Egypt, the principal mediators for the initial agreement.

The releases so far have seen mostly women and children freed but they have not included Kfir Bibas, a 10-month-old baby who is the youngest hostage.

On Tuesday, his relatives called for him to be released, along with his four-year-old brother, Ariel. The pair were abducted from Nir Oz along with their mother, Shiri, and father, Yarden.

Zohar Avigdori, whose sister-in-law, Sharon Avigdori, and niece Noam, 12, were released on Saturday, said the atrocities sound like “the plot of a movie and not something that actually happened to your family”.

Source: The Guardian