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Hamas releases video of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin in proof he survived Oct. 7 injuries

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Editor’s Note: Warning: This story contains a graphic image.

Hamas released a video of Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin on Wednesday, the first proof that he survived being badly wounded during his capture on October 7.

Goldberg-Polin, then 23, was kidnapped from the Nova music festival during Hamas’ attacks on Israel when more than 1,200 people died and more than 200 people were taken hostage.

He is shown in the undated video with part of his left arm missing several inches above the hand.

Video filmed on October 7 showed Goldberg-Polin being taken hostage with his arm severely injured. A firsthand account from a young woman, who was in a bunker with him when Hamas attacked, said he had helped to throw grenades out, before his arm was blown off from the elbow down.

The latest video shows Goldberg-Polin sitting in a chair, addressing the camera. Gesturing occasionally with his injured arm, he identifies himself and gives his date of birth and parents’ names.

He says he has been “here for almost 200 days,” suggesting the video was filmed shortly before Tuesday, the 200th day of the war.

Goldberg-Polin’s hair is cropped short in the video, which is edited with a number of cuts from wide shot to close up.

He criticizes the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as other Israeli hostages in Hamas propaganda videos have done. Held captive in Gaza for six months, he is almost certainly speaking under duress.

He mentions Israeli government ministers sitting down to holiday dinners with their families, an apparent reference to the Jewish holiday of Passover, which began Monday night and is traditionally celebrated with a family dinner.

He urges his own family to stay strong for him and finishes by saying he hopes he was able to give them some comfort on the holiday.

The Biden administration received the video Monday – two days before Hamas made it public – and officials have since been in contact with Goldberg-Polin’s family, according to a US official. The FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell is running point on examining the video for any potential evidence and information that can be gleaned about Goldberg-Polin and his captivity, the official said.

Goldberg-Polin is among the most recognizable of the 129 hostages who remain in Gaza. Banners and murals are displayed in Jerusalem, saying: “Bring Hersh Home,” and his parents Rachel and Jonathan regularly meet top US officials in Washington to press the case of the hostages.

Of the 129 October 7 hostages still being held in Gaza, the Israeli government believes 33 are dead.

Following the release of the video, the Goldberg-Polin family demanded immediate action to release their son and the other hostages still held in Gaza.

“Seeing the video of Hersh today 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,” his parents Rachel Goldberg-Polin and Jon Polin said in a video statement.

The Goldberg-Polin family has called on the negotiating parties, including Qatar, Egypt, the United States, Hamas, and Israel, to intensify efforts and strike a deal that would reunite families and end their suffering.

They also sent a personal message to their son, “Hersh, we heard your voice today for the first time in 201 days. If you can hear us, know that we love you. Stay strong, survive.”

The hostage video released Wednesday of Goldberg-Polin was the first proof he had survived his injuries sustained on October 7. Previous footage, taken on the day of that attack, shows Hamas fighters leading him away from the bomb shelter with part of his arm missing.

Days earlier, an Israeli soldier at the site of the Nova music festival had shown Cooper a video of Hamas fighters lobbing grenades into a bomb shelter. The video also showed a young Israeli man – with his hand blown off and bone protruding from his wrist – being marched out of the shelter and thrown along with four others into the back of a truck. Cooper realized this was Rachel and John’s son.

Not wanting to spring the news on them on live TV, Cooper contacted them after the interview and asked if they wanted to see the video. They later confirmed the man in the video was their son and asked that the video be shared more widely.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin was told by eyewitnesses that as many as 29 people had huddled together in the shelter before Hamas began to throw grenades inside. Eight people survived by hiding under the bodies of the dead, while her son was one of several hostages taken.

Hersh, who is left-handed, was set to go on a round-the-world trip he had planned. On December 27, when he had been scheduled to leave, his mother went to the airport with friends and handed stickers of Hersh to passengers on his flight, asking them to send photos from places they visit.

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