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Israel Launches Project to Collect Hamas Victims' Testimonies so Future Generations Remember

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) has launched an ambitious project to collect the testimonies of all those kidnapped on October 7th and preserve them for future generations. One of the focuses of the project is on those who suffered from sexual abuse either before or during Hamas captivity.

“The GPO took footage and testimonies from all the hostages that arrived in the first step a few months ago to make sure that, first of all, the foreign media will know exactly, know what is going on with this (about) Hamas’ horrible activities that they do in the jails (captivity). But, also for the next generation,” director of the GPO, Nitzan Chen, told CBN News. 

Chen, who had the idea for the project, stresses the importance of recording personal, firsthand stories for documentation and authenticity.

“So, just imagine, if even today, six months after the massacre, some people either, for instance, even the Secretary of the U.N., deny that there was abuse against women at the jail (Hamas captivity). Just imagine what will happen ten years from now. People will ignore or deny that there was some rape. And then (on) this October seventh there was murder. Therefore, the testimonies are very, very important for those days and (the) next generation as well,” Chen said.

Journalists met some participants in the project, during a preview of a small part of the film the GPO is producing from the testimonies, which will eventually be stored and accessible in the national archives.

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Hamas kidnapped Merav Tal and also took the body of her long-time partner, Yaakov Tal, on October 7th. In the film, she tells her story.

“I saw Yaya (Yaakov) outside the house, sitting on his knees and two terrorists were holding him by his sides. He was with his back (to) me. They were holding weapons. And he yelled at me, 'I'm going to die!'” Merav explained in the film.

“And I'm on a Vespa and I told him 'Don't resist'. One (of the terrorists) who was sitting (on the Vespa) was holding a knife to my neck. They brought me down from the Vespa someone hit me on the head. I almost lost consciousness,” she continued.

In another part of her story, she explains what happened when she was going to take a shower. 

“I was getting ready to take a shower, Then he (terrorist) told me: You take a shower when you finish, you don't wear your clothes, I'm coming to check you out if you have a chip in your body,” she said.

Merav told journalists that even though women usually try to act younger than they are, she kept telling the terrorists that she’s elderly in the hopes they’d respect her and treat her better.

That's just one of dozens of testimonies that are part of the GPO project.

At Kfar Aza, terrorists abducted Chen Goldstein-Almog and three of her children. They also murdered her husband and oldest daughter.

“There were shouts of ‘Jew, Jew’ in Arabic. They broke in (to the bomb shelter) screaming and shooting, bullet marks on the door. We understood my husband was shot. He was lying on the floor with his hands up. This was all in front of our eyes,” Chen told journalists.

In the film, she explains what happened to her oldest daughter, Yam, on that fateful day.

“And then I ran to check on Yam (her sister), and I see that she was shot in the face. I just saw this for a few seconds, it was a shocking sight. Something got opened right here and blood was coming out of her head,” she said pointing to the side of her face and head. “Such a convulsion, she was half passed out. I was simply stunned, in shock, I was asking myself: 'Is what I'm seeing right now really happening?'”

Malki Shem-Tov is the father of 21-year-old Omer Shem-Tov, still a hostage after being kidnapped from the Nova Festival at Re’im.

“I didn't (see) him already more than seven months. Sometimes, I'm trying to force myself to try to dream about him. I miss him. I miss him. I terribly miss him and if he (can) hear me, I want to tell him that we do everything, everything to bring him back home, him and all the other hostages,” Malki explained to the journalists. “Omer, just wait for us.”

Louis Har, 70, kidnapped along with his friend Fernando Simon Marman, has a different story. The IDF rescued them from Hamas captivity in Gaza in February. He described the moment of the rescues in the film.

“Suddenly I heard "boom"! and then wild shooting began, and someone grabbed my leg, pulled me down, and said: ‘Put your head down.’ He said, ‘Louis, we are the IDF, the IDF! We came to take you home.’ From that moment, that's it, I was in their hands. It gave me so much confidence,” Louis said.

Louis told CBN News the most important priority is to bring the hostages home and how he and his friend didn’t allow themselves to lose hope.

“We didn't lose our hope, and I hope that no one here loses his hope because this is the last thing that needs to happen. We need to be strong in order to do everything to bring the hostages home,” Louis said.

As one who had always believed in the possibility of co-existence with the Palestinians, Louis says being in captivity convinced him otherwise – that co-existence just isn't possible.

“How many of the captors said to me themselves, they think we (Jews) don't need to be here. There shouldn't be a Land of Israel. There should only be Palestine, that everything is theirs,” Louis said. 

“That says that we don't have a partner for talks because they think this and they teach the children this from the time they are born. The only value is hatred, to buy a weapon, and to kill the Jews, that's what they know. It's a pity,” he said.

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Moshe Or's brother, Avi Natan Or, was kidnapped along with his girlfriend, Noa Argamani, whose mother, Liora, has terminal brain cancer. Liora has made many appeals to free her daughter so that she can see her before she dies.

Moshe hopes the free world will pressure Hamas in any way possible to free the hostages because not doing so sends a dangerous message.

“What will the terrorists all over the world see and learn? They will learn that by taking hostages, or civilian hostages they can have benefits or earn something in the political field. Imagine what will happen with terrorists in the USA. They will try if they want to get something in the political field, they will take hostages,” Moshe told CBN News.

With Israeli hostages still in Hamas captivity, the issue remains a top priority for Israel.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and