Lebanon hospital treats Adam, first wounded Gazan to arrive in Beirut

Jerusalem: Rachel Goldberg-Polin has a piece of tape attached to her shirt with the handwritten number of days her son Hersh has been held hostage in Gaza.
It is “a symbol of my pain,” the 54-year-old Goldberg-Polish woman told AFP in her office in Jerusalem, where an Israeli flag flies next to a banner bearing the portrait of her 23-year-old son and reading: “Bring Hersh home.”
The US-born mother held back tears and lamented that it was “a disgrace for humanity that we could not rescue the 121 hostages held by militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since October 7.”
The number also includes several foreigners or dual nationals, such as the Israeli-American Hersh Goldberg-Polin, as well as 37 prisoners who, according to the army, were declared dead.
The soft-spoken mother, a former psychiatrist who “worked out six days a week,” said she had stopped exercising, listening to music or eating sugar since the attack in October.
“It’s a different life,” she told AFP.
For nearly eight months, she endured fear, uncertainty and “indescribable” pain while the family waited for Hersh’s return.
During a week-long ceasefire in November, 105 hostages were released. Hersh, like most other Israelis of fighting age, was not among them.
Relatives of the hostages have put pressure on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called on it to take immediate action to secure their release.
But “wanting and doing are two completely different things,” said Goldberg-Polin about the declared political will to bring them back.
She holds dual Israeli and American citizenship and moved to Jerusalem in 2008, where she lives with her husband Jon. They have three children, including Hersh.
Goldberg-Polin said she turned to her Jewish faith during this time.
“When I pray every day… it is a form of meditation and a form of therapy.”
She said when she prays for Hersh, she repeats the same mantra: “I love you, stay strong, survive.”
Her younger daughters, 18 and 20, were also a source of comfort.
“They often have to be motherly to me, and I feel sorry for that because it is my job to be motherly to them,” said the mother.
In late April, Hamas released a video showing their son – a sign that he may still be alive and the first time the Hersh family had seen him since October 6.
It was Friday night, and after the Goldberg-Polins went to synagogue and had dinner with friends, Hersh left.
He had recently returned from a long trip through Europe, his mother said, and decided to go camping.
Without her knowledge, Hersh went with a friend to a music festival near the Gaza border.
As a devout Jew, Rachel usually avoids using technological devices on Saturday, the Jewish day of rest.
But early on the morning of October 7, she looked at her phone. A message from her son read, “I love you,” followed by another: “I’m sorry.”
The family initially thought Hersh had died before learning of his abduction from the Nova Rave site, where more than 360 people were killed by Gaza militants.
Hersh’s left forearm was torn off in the attack, while his friend Aner Shapira was killed.
Militants threw grenades at them, and Shapira “kept picking them up and throwing them away” until one of them killed him, Goldberg-Polin said.
Rachel Goldberg-Polin’s tireless efforts to secure her son’s release have made her a well-known figure in Israel and beyond.
She met Pope Francis and last week US President Joe Biden, who was “very emotional,” Goldberg-Polin noted.
In April, US magazine Time named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2024.
“It was immediately clear that I did not belong on this list,” she said, but being included on the list helped draw attention to “this global humanitarian crisis.”
The October 7 Hamas attack that kidnapped Hersh left 1,189 people, mostly civilians, dead, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures, and sparked the ongoing war.
In Israel’s retaliatory campaign in the Gaza Strip, which officials say is aimed at freeing the hostages and destroying Hamas, at least 36,224 people have been killed, mostly civilians, according to the territory’s Health Ministry.
Goldberg-Polin said she had also been “deeply concerned” about “the innocent civilians” in the Gaza Strip “from the beginning”.
“I don’t think it’s a pain contest,” she said.
Now, “the people she meets and recognizes start crying” because they already know her story, Goldberg-Polin said.
“I pray for the day when people see me and smile.”

Leave a Comment

URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL URL