Children and youths who are Hamas captives in Gaza are exposed to extreme dangers, both physical and emotional. A voluntary organization named the Hostages and Missing Families Forum was established to represent and aid the hostages, missing persons, and their families. The volunteer medical professionals from a variety of fields and family members of the hostages and the missing persons established a medical and resilience team for protecting the health of the hostages and their families.
The medical team is led by Prof. Hagai Levine, a leading Israeli epidemiologist and chairman of the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians. They collected data regarding the hostages’ medical backgrounds through a series of interviews with their family members and received medical files that represent a sample of the hostages or missing persons’ medical information. The group emphasized that the hostages, including infants, children, and adolescents, are at extremely high risk for inflicted physical violence and abuse, including sexual abuse, mutilation, humiliation, and long-term physical and psychological damage.
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum reported that the children, especially infants and toddlers, are prone to extreme psychological anguish and developmental delay due to their captivity. Additionally, they noted that children and women are at risk of sexual violence and abuse. The group appealed to organizations such as UNICEF, ICRC, and world leaders to act for the children’s immediate release and to provide them with essential medical and psychological care.
The forum can be reached at Med@bringthemhomenow.net.