Mental abuse and infectious diseases: Medical condition of returned Israeli captives worrying, report says

Report by the Health Ministry set to be given to ICRC president indicates Israeli captives are held in extremely poor hygienic conditions, and that there is evidence of starvation, physical and mental abuse, and sexual abuse

A new report on the medical condition of the Israeli hostages who returned from Hamas captivity in Gaza will be presented to International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Mirjana Spoljaric on Thursday.
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Sources who have seen the report said it contains evidence of many infectious diseases that were found in the bodies of those who returned to Israel. Among other things, doctors found significant cases of salmonella, which may indicate the low quality of food provided to the hostages, as well as the poor sanitary conditions in which they were held.
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כיכר החטופים, תל אביב
כיכר החטופים, תל אביב
Sign calling for the release of hostages in Tel Aviv
(Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)
Another finding indicates the presence of parasites and the Clostridium bacteria, which can cause intestinal inflammation and, in some cases, life-threatening conditions. The bacteria also indicates the close connection to a very low level of hygiene in the places where the Israeli and foreign hostages are being held inside the Strip.
A significant part of the report focuses on the starvation of the captives. As was previously reported, the Health Ministry in a closed meeting noted that some of the hostages lost up to 15 kg., and a discussion in the Knesset Health Committee noted that some of the captives lost up to 17% of their total body weight. Captives who returned to Israel recalled food was available in very small amounts, which sometimes amounted to two pita breads a day or a serving of rice.
In addition, as some hostages testified, they didn’t shower at all throughout their time in Gaza. This led to the development of skin diseases in a significant proportion of those who returned to Israel. However, one of the main parts of the report focuses on the psychological abuse the hostages underwent.
In some cases, according to testimonies, they were beaten, forced to watch horrific videos from the October 7 attack, and underwent brainwashing while they were weakened and sick. Spoljaric will also be presented with evidence of signs of sexual abuse in captivity.
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פרופ' חגי לוין, מסיבת עיתונאים של הרופאות והרופאים מטעם מטה המשפחות להחזרת החטופים והנעדרים
פרופ' חגי לוין, מסיבת עיתונאים של הרופאות והרופאים מטעם מטה המשפחות להחזרת החטופים והנעדרים
Professor Hagai Levin
(Photo: Motti Kimchi)
"What we’re hearing is only part of the story, and it’s certainly possible the hostages who are still being held in Gaza are in even worse conditions and are exposed to even more dangers," said Professor Hagai Levin, head of the medical department at the headquarters of the families of the hostages.
"This is only the beginning. We need to continue to collect this important information. As for the risk of infections, we know that hostages are being held in inhumane and unsanitary conditions. Some of them haven’t bathed at all and the food they eat is putting their lives at risk. These infections are simply life-threatening," Levin said.
"Psychological abuse can cause lifelong disability," according to Levin. "This is something that no person in the world should have to go through. This indicates the urgent need for their release, including children and the elderly. I expect the Health Ministry to release this report all over the world and that the response of all world human rights organizations will act accordingly and address these shocking details."
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