Hamas releases video of injured Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin (2024)

World

By Tucker Reals

/ CBS News

Hamas released a video Wednesday appearing to show one of its Israeli hostages delivering an address in captivity. In the video, a man identifies himself as Israeli-American Hersh Goldberg-Polin before delivering a long statement clearly crafted by Hamas, which has long been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel.

The video may give the young man's family hope, however, as the message he conveys includes a reference to his 200 days in captivity — which suggests it was either filmed on or to mark April 24, exactly 200 days since Hamas launched its attack. CBS News cannot verify the date of filming or the contents of the video released by Hamas' armed Al-Qassam Brigades, but it was posted on the same social media channel used regularly by the group to publish propaganda videos, including others showing hostages.

A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News the White House received the video on Monday, and said the White House has been in touch with the Goldberg-Polin family since it was received. The family also received a copy of the video directly, the official said.

The official noted this is the first time Hamas has publicly released a video of a U.S. citizen hostage.

"I wasn't even really listening to what he was saying, I was just hearing his voice," Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Hersh's mother, told CBS News in an interview Thursday about the video. "I haven't heard his voice in six months. He's clearly medically compromised and medically fragile."

Goldberg-Polin said the last time she heard from her son was in a text message saying, "I love you," as he was being taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.

"I don't know if he hears it or if he feels it or if he knows it, but I am ordering him to survive," she said. "So many people were so emotional because they really have not thought he was alive."

A statement released Wednesday by the Hostage Families Forum, which represents the families of those still held in Gaza, said Goldberg-Polin's parents wanted the message he was delivering to get out, and the group did not question the video's authenticity.

Hamas releases video of injured Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin (1)

"Hersh's cry is the collective cry of all the hostages — their time is rapidly running out. With each passing day, the fear of losing more innocent lives grows stronger. We cannot afford to waste any more time; the hostages must be the top priority," the group said in its statement.

There had been no clear indication from Hamas that Goldberg-Polin, now 24, was still alive. He was seriously injured when militants rampaged through the music festival he was attending near the Gaza border during Hamas' unprecedented Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel."

In the video, Goldberg-Polin shows that he is missing his left hand, and there are some marks visible on his head and face, but he speaks clearly in Hebrew and appears otherwise thin but healthy. The video includes English subtitles, which CBS News has verified as accurate.

"Hersh and I are both left-handed," his mother old CBS News. "Now he's not left-handed anymore. It was truly just an overwhelming moment."

The statement he delivers, clearly under duress in Hamas captivity, includes a litany of insults and admonishments for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to secure a deal for the remaining hostages' release.

There are believed to be about 130 people still held in Gaza, of the roughly 240 initially taken hostage by Hamas.

It is not clear how many of the remaining hostages are still alive, but Goldberg-Polin says in the videotaped statement that Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed "about 70" of the captives. The U.S. official could not confirm that or other details of what was said under duress in the video, including when it was filmed. Hamas has previously issued false statements about the hostages' fate, accusing Israel of killing people who were later found alive.

"This is an innocent young man being held hostage by a terrorist organization and he should be released immediately without condition and without delay," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a briefing Wednesday afternoon. He said FBI experts are analyzing the video.

"The moment that we got the video that showed Hersh, we gave it to the FBI hostage fusion recovery cell," Sullivan said. "...I'm not going to get ahead of that assessment to make any judgments about time, you know, recency, etc. I will let them make those judgments and then when we have something we can share publicly in light of all the sensitivities we'll share it with you."

The video was released as Jews observe the Passover holiday.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin hadtold CBS' "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan earlier this month that her family was living through "a painful, staggeringly indescribable odyssey" as they waited for news of her son. They knew already that he'd lost part of an arm in the Oct. 7 attack on the Supernova music festival, and had to apply his own tourniquet, according to witnesses.

A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News on Wednesday that there are five U.S. nationals still unaccounted for and presumed to be living hostages in Gaza, including Goldberg-Polin. Three other Americans who were in Israel when Hamas launched its Oct. 7 attack — Itay Chen, Judith Weinstein and Gad Haggai — are presumed dead, but their bodies have not yet been recovered.

In the video released Wednesday, Goldberg-Polin says Netanyahu and his fellow Israeli leaders should be "ashamed" for carrying on with their mission in Gaza while he and his fellow captives are stuck "in underground hell, without water, food or sun."

Near the end of the statement, Goldberg-Polin addresses his own family directly, naming his parents and siblings and saying: "I love you. I know you're doing your best to get me home as soon as possible. I want you to stay strong for me."

Goldberg-Polin's parents are among the relatives and loved ones of hostages who have brought tremendous pressure on Israel's leaders to negotiate a new cease-fire and hostage release deal with Hamas.

"I don't know that the cabinet needed to have a flame lit under them to get these hostages out," his father, Jonathan Polin, told CBS News' Chris Livesay in December. "But if they did, it happens today."

Rachel Goldberg-Polin had the following message Thursday to those negotiating a deal.

"It requires loving and caring about your people, more than you hate the other," she said. "Let's be human. Let's figure it out, and let's end this."

— Margaret Brennan and Debora Patta contributed to this report.

    In:
  • War
  • Hostage Situation
  • Hamas
  • Israel
  • Gaza Strip

Tucker Reals

Tucker Reals is cbsnews.com's foreign editor, based in the CBS News London bureau. He has worked for CBS News since 2006, prior to which he worked for The Associated Press in Washington D.C. and London.

Hamas releases video of injured Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin (2024)
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