Helping Child Hostages Recover

On Monday 4th December, Dr Efrat Bron-Harlev, the CEO of Schneider Children`s Hospital, gave a press conference to update people on the enormous challenges they face in trying to help the Israeli children who have been freed from captivity by Hamas. The terrorists have made efforts to present themselves as treating their hostages well. But the stories that are slowly emerging from the children are very different.

Dr Efrat Bron-Harlev explained that the staff don`t know how to treat these children because the events of October 7th, followed by so many days in captivity in a horrific place, with or without others, with or without knowing what`s going to happen with them, what`s going to happen with their parents, is a unique combination of circumstances.

One 13-year-old girl told the staff, “I actually thought that everyone forgot about me. Why did I think that way? Because this is what I`ve been told by the Hamas kidnappers. They told me that nobody cares about you anymore, nobody`s looking for you, nobody wants you back. You can hear the bombs around, all they want to do is kill you and us together.”

So, the first challenge is to persuade her that people were looking for her, that her parents were looking for her, that they cared about her. “This is not something that takes a day or two even to start understanding how you make that child believe,” said Dr Bron-Harlev.

She went on to describe greeting all of the children at the helicopter which took them to the Medical Centre, going there to see how they were, to see if they needed immediate medical care. And as they looked back at her, she said, “They looked like shadows of children, not like children. They looked like shadows.”

Here is i24 News’ video of the press conference.