2 December 2023

Israel’s Institutional Sadism – Beatings and Food Deprivation are the lot of Palestinian Prisoners

Compare this with the Gentle Treatment of Israeli Prisoners By Hamas

Ex-Prisoners Recall Time In Israeli Detention

As Israel resumes its genocidal war against the Palestinians of Gaza it is worth bearing in mind the contrast between Hamas’s treatment of Israeli captives and Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners. According to groups like the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Hamas is both genocidal and anti-Semitic.

You would therefore expect that when Hamas captured over 200 Israeli hostages they would feel the full brunt of this anti-Semitism. One would expect those who were Jewish to testify to being beaten, possibly tortured and certainly subject to vile anti-Semitic comments.

In addition one might expect them to be deprived of food, medical treatment and subject to all manner of psychological torments designed to break them down.

Release of Israeli Hostages

Israel's President Herzog Holds all Palestinians Guilty

Yet the exact opposite was the case. What happened was that Hamas treated the Israeli hostages very differently to the sadistic brutes that constitute the Israeli Prison Service. At the very beginning of his reign as Israel’s neo-Nazi National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir sought to worsen the conditions of Palestinian prisoners. He stipulated that they could have a shower for only a maximum of 4 minutes. He ordered that they were no longer allowed to bake their own pittas.

As a result of their treatment the Israeli hostages displayed affection and warmth for their Hamas captors which posed a problem for Israeli propagandists. How to reconcile their racist portrayal of Hamas as sub-human anti-Semites and the reality of what happened?

Palestinians not allowed to celebrate their release in E Jerusalem

This was the context for the wheeling out of the Stockholm Syndrome, so-called because in 1973, after a failed bank robbery, when the robbers took 4 bank employees hostage, the hostages refused to testify against their kidnappers. Shivani Chauhan wrote about how

The recent release of Israeli hostages captured by Hamas, the Palestinian militia in Gaza, has unearthed a new dimension in the ongoing conflict. This event took a perplexing turn when hostages were seen warmly waving to the Hamas militants at the time of release, with one even writing a letter to his captor. Such behaviors have sparked discussions about the potential role of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition where victims develop an affinity towards their captors.

There is just one flaw in this argument. No Palestinian detainee seems to have suffered from this psychological condition. They all speak of beatings, degradation, torture and food deprivation. They show no affection for their captors. Why is it that only Israeli hostages feel warmth for their captors?

Maya Lecker, a political analyst, wrote in Haaretz complaining about people ‘applauding Hamas gunmen for giving high-fives to their captives on camera’ and that ‘pro-Palestinian influencers and social media users’ were finding the nightly hand-overs of hostages ‘heart-warming public displays of humanity and morality by Hamas militants.’

Another political analyst, Yaniv Peleg, said in an article for the right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper that broadcasting the footage on television is detrimental to Israel. How one might wonder is showing the release of the hostages live on TV ‘detrimental to Israel’? Peleg even complained of the professionalism of Hamas footage! Is he admitting that the truth is detrimental to Israel’s narrative?

These are not human beings - Israeli soldier

Would it have been better not to release them? In fact this is what large parts of Israel’s neo-Nazi government, people like Bezalel Smotrich and Ben Gvir would have preferred. Smotrich is on record as saying that Israel should “not take the matter of the captives into significant consideration”.

What the Israeli state feared was of course the contrast between the propaganda image of Hamas as ‘human animals’ and the actuality. That is why the Israeli State and the Zionists were angry over footage depicting Hamas's treatment of released Israeli hostages because it did not accord with their propaganda.

Freed Palestinians Say They Were Tortured, Beaten and Starved in Israeli Prisons

Peleg complained that every detail was captured to portray the humanity of the perpetrators, Hamas, to the world. When you have spent years portraying Hamas as an evil group, whose sole intent was the destruction of every Jew, it might come as a surprise to know that they didn’t hate people simply because they were Jews.

That is why the Israeli state has strained every sinew to prevent the released hostages talking to the media. If their treatment had lived up to standard Israeli portrayals of Hamas militants and Netanyahu’s equation of Hamas as equal to ISIS, then one would have expected released hostages to have been paraded before the cameras. In fact they have been hidden away.

The absurdity of the comparison with ISIS is also evident. ISIS beheaded their captives and tortured them. Hamas did no such thing.

Alon Ben David: "Hamas treated the Israeli hostages well"

The military correspondent for Israel’s Channel 13, Alon Ben David, said that he had spoken with some of the released captives. All said that the Hamas fighters “have gathered the members of each kibbutz together, which gave them a greater sense of comfort.”

They were not subjected to any violence or insult, and Hamas members tried to provide them with food, painkillers, and their regular medications as much as possible, under dangerous and harsh security conditions underground and inside the tunnels.

They were sitting and talking to each other, he added, doing their usual activities, and using YouTube. “This gave them a boost to persevere.” How strange that the CAA’s genocidal anti-Semites had taken the trouble to gather members of each kibbutz together.

Another speaker on the same show said that they should all feel “ashamed” of themselves, because the testimonies given by the recently released Israeli captives are exactly the same as the testimony given by Lifshitz.

“She was telling the truth exactly as those [captives] said. I sat with them and heard the exact same story from them,”

Israeli Channel 13 reported, that the released Israeli hostages said they did not experience mistreatment and were not subjected to torture. The food was scarce, which was not surprising since Israel has imposed a total water and food blockade on Gaza.

The brutal treatment of Palestinian prisoners by Israel

Tel Aviv kept the released Israeli hostages away from the media and allowed only relatives and friends to meet them. The released hostages were forced into media silence as Israel tightened its control on interviews.

A report from Israeli news channel Channel 12 noted that Israeli authorities had arranged a special media process for the hostages’ post-release, in order to ensure they remain in control of the narrative.

Note the contrast in condition - Israeli prisoner on left, Hamas prisoner on right

It said that medical officials will first assess whether the released hostages were fit enough to be questioned about their ordeal by Israel’s security police, Shin Bet. The children who were taken hostage will also undergo questioning by special child investigators.

The Channel 12 report noted that Israeli authorities had sought to control the narrative following criticism by Israeli commentators for what they said was a careless handling of Lifshitz’s press conference.

It said media interviews will not be banned for abductees, but closely supervised.

Despite the anger after Yochaved Lifshitz's press conference upon her release, this time too there will be no ban on media interviews of the abductees.

What do the videos of released Hamas captives tell us | Al Jazeera Newsfeed

Despite pretending to be unconcerned Israeli authorities were outraged at the fact that Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv had facilitated Yocheved Lifshitz’s interview. As a result hospital employee Avi Shoshan has been suspended and summoned to a pre-dismissal hearing. For enabling a hostage to tell the truth someone is being threatened with dismissal. That’s not something the BBC or the prostitute press will report but that is what happens when Israel’s narrative is questioned.

Shoshan was summoned to a pre-dismissal hearing after the hospital held a press conference with 85-year-old Lifshitz, an abductee who was released by Hamas last month.

Yocheved Lifshitz press conference

Time Magazine reported 85-year-old Yocheved Lipschitz as saying that her captors “told us they are people who believe in the Quran and wouldn’t hurt us.”

Lifshitz said captives were treated well and received medical care, including medication. The guards kept conditions clean, she said. Hostages were given one meal a day of cheese, cucumber and pita, she said, adding that her captors ate the same.

Hamas prisoners - unlike Israel's prisoners there is no sign of beating or torture

A family member of Ruth Munder, an elderly woman who was released, told the Jerusalem Post that Munder did not experience any harm during her captivity. In a section ‘How did Hamas Treat the Hostages’ the Jerusalem Post reported that

Initially, there weren't many people with them, but at some point, more individuals were added. They had access to a radio and television, where they heard news from Israel. Ruth heard on the radio that her son [Roi Munder] had been killed… The conditions were far from ideal; 80-year-old men and women lied down on plastic benches similar to those in a hospital, without mattresses.

"Fortunately, they did not endure any unpleasant experiences during their captivity; they were treated in a humane manner," continued the family member.

"Contrary to our fears, they did not encounter the horrifying stories we had imagined. They described the initial moments of their kidnapping when the terrorists were agitated and threatened to harm them, but once they were on motorcycles, they did not harm them."

After 85-year-old captive Yochaved Lifshitz told the media she was treated "with care" and was filmed shaking hands in a peace gesture with a Hamas soldier, the Israeli authorities have been eager to regain the narrative.

Lifshitz told the press how she received daily visits from a doctor during her captivity, and that they ate the same food as the guards. Lifshitz’s daughter also said that her mother was cared for by a paramedic during her captivity.

On October 24, Lifshitz told the press that she was treated well while in Hamas captivity after she was driven into the Gaza Strip while being beaten by Hamas terrorists. Her statements caused an uproar in Israel, with some government and diplomatic figures accusing the conference organizers of damaging the country's advocacy efforts by portraying a positive image of Hamas.

In other words the organisers of the press conference had allowed doubt to be cast upon government lies about Hamas and that is unforgiveable. Ha’aretz reported how Lifshitz started the press conference by recounting the details of the October 7 kidnapping: "Masses mobbed our homes. They beat people, took some hostage." She described it as "very painful.”

It was the statements that followed, however, that drew controversy in Israel. She said that the kidnappers brought a doctor that gave them medical treatment, that the hostages were treated well and the kidnappers were friendly. "We lay on mattresses, they made sure everything was sanitary," she said. "They made sure we wouldn't get sick, and we had a doctor with us every two or three days.”

Ha’aretz reported the story as ‘The problem is you, not Hamas' : Hostages' families lash out at Israeli government.

"They were very friendly to us," Lifshitz said, "they treated us gently and looked after us." Clearly this dedemonising of Hamas and the portray of its members as human beings could not be allowed again.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Israel’s released hostages ‘are expected to receive close supervision, and they will be instructed on what to tell the media and what not."

What this shows is that Israel as a settler-colonial state consciously seeks to portray those who oppose it as less than human, brutal animal savages whereas in fact if anyone conforms to this image it is the Zionists themselves.

Tony Greenstein


  1. "Stockholm Syndrome"? - worth recalling that this itself is a dubious concept, with apparently no clinical foundation.

  2. The fact that even the BBC is leaking some of this testimony is encouraging - you have done a great service by garnering these video clips which are quite damaging to the Zionist propagandists - I have copied the URLs and will be disseminating as widely as possible with appropriate attribution to source - thank you - a donation will be on the way


Please submit your comments below