‘It will never be a full recovery’

‘It will never be a full recovery’

One 13-year-old child is so traumatized that when she recalls being held hostage by Hamas terrorists, it’s as if she is speaking about someone else.

Another little girl, bloodied and orphaned when her parents were fatally shot in front of her on their Israeli kibbutz Oct. 7, turned 4 while kidnapped — and expressed sheer joy at seeing her relatives when freed Monday.

For these young victims of Hamas’ unconscionable kidnapping plot — which saw them snatched from their families for nearly two months — it will likely take years to come to terms with the trauma they’ve experienced, experts say.

Others will likely carry the weight of what they heard and saw for the rest of their lives, they say.

“It will never be a full recovery,” said Dr. Ginio Daphna Dollberg, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo.

“It would never be that, [that] whatever happened to them would not affect them or be forgotten,” she said.

Agam Goldstein-Almog, 17 was released from the Gaza Strip. via REUTERS
Tal Goldstein-Almog, 9, reunited with family. via REUTERS

Of the 69 hostages released to date in the cease-fire, which began Friday, 31 have been children.

One of the freed kids, Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, already seemed to be trying to cope with her horrific ordeal by dissociating from it — speaking about the past 50 days spent in captivity in a way that distances herself from the nightmarish torments she endured, said her uncle Yair Rotem.

Hila Rotem Shoshani, 13, was taken as a hostage in October. AP
Hila meets a family member after being released as part of a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel amid a temporary truce. via REUTERS

“She speaks about facts that happened,” Rotem told “Today” correspondent Richard England on Monday.
England replied “Like it happened to someone else?”

Rotem said, “Yeah, it’s like a story.

“She doesn’t get settled when she talks about it.”


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Another former captive is 9-year-old Ohad Munder, one of at least two child hostages who spent their birthdays in Hamas custody.

He happened to hear his family wishing him a happy birthday on an Israeli TV broadcast while being held.

Other hostages wished him happy birthday when they heard the broadcast.

Ohad Munder, 9-year-old, reacts as he meets with his family members after he returned to Israel. via REUTERS
Munder was one of at least two child hostages who spent their birthdays in Hamas custody. Schneider Children’s Medical Center

Ohad was abducted by Hamas terrorists from kibbutz Nir Oz on Oct. 7 along with his mother Keren, 55, and his grandmother Ruti, 78. All three family members were released Friday.

In footage made public by Schneider Children’s Medical Center, where many of the child hostages were brought to start their recoveries, the bespectacled youngster sprints down a hallway into the waiting arms of his father, who sweeps him off the ground for a heartwarming hug.

“Every day, every hour, every minute spent in captivity leaves its lifetime mark on the souls and bodies of the children and deepens their injury into continued and irreparable damage,’’ wrote more than a thousand experts in child-welfare fields in an open letter to Secretary-General of the UN Antonio Guterres late last month.

Lillie Macias, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Haven, told The Post the children are coming out of a situation where they had little, if any, choice over what they did day-to-day.

“So I think in the immediate time period following a trauma like this, there should be a lot of emphasis on trying to bring back that autonomy and even small choices in children’s lives,” she said.

While Macias noted she can’t speak for every child held hostage, research suggests recovery is possible from such a traumatic experience.

“I think you’re gonna to see a whole gambit of some children who may really struggle,” Macias said. “I think a lot’s gonna depend on the stability they have returning home and whether they have the availability of constant stable caregivers.

“Some of them may have lost family members and have ongoing trauma and grief, but I think there is hope for the future.”

Mental-health professional Orna Dotan told the Jewish Chronicle last week, “We are writing the textbook on how to deal with this amount of trauma, a level that has never happened or been seen here before.”

Some of the hostages were kept in safe houses or other locations where they had occasional access to media reports through televisions or radios, which enabled them to remain somewhat abreast of the latest developments in the war.

But for those fortunate enough to spend their time in captivity above ground, the shelling around them was an ever-present threat.

Another group of hostages said they were held in underground tunnels with little to no daylight and with food in desperately short supply.

Abigail Edan, 4, was released after being taken hostage during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. via REUTERS

The captives in the tunnels reported routinely hearing the sounds of shelling above.

They said they mostly subsisted on rice during their last two weeks in Hamas custody.

Abigail Edan, 4, was among the youngest of Hamas’ kidnapping victims.

Old photos showing her bright eyes and radiant smile made her something of a global symbol during her time in captivity — the innocent visage proving there was no depth on how low Hamas could stoop.

Abigail, who was 3 when the terrorists murdered her parents in front of her and her siblings before abducting her from Kfar Aza kibbutz on Oct. 7, also marked a birthday while in captivity.

According to her great-aunt Liz Hirsch Naftali, Abigail was in her father’s arms when he was gunned down by Hamas. Her dad collapsed on top of her as he died.

Naftali told NBC that little Abigail then crawled out from underneath her father’s body and made her way to a neighbor’s house — drenched in her father’s blood. The child was eventually taken hostage along with others in the home.

Abigail was freed Sunday night, greeted with open arms by her aunt Liron and grandmother Shlomit at Hatzerim air force base in Israel.

Joined by her grandfather Eitan and uncle Zuli, the family shared a joyous reunion at Schneider Children’s Medical Center.

Additional reporting by David Propper

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