The Day After the War Ends

The images of the Palestinian prisoners’ release is emblematic of the problem Israel faces, in both the occupied West Bank and in Gaza.
The images of the Palestinian prisoners’ release is emblematic of the problem Israel faces, in both the occupied West Bank and in Gaza. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
November 28, 2023

In the last week, Hamas has released 51 Israeli hostages and 18 foreign nationals from captivity in exchange for 150 Palestinians from Israeli jails. A new tranche—12 Hamas hostages for 30 Palestinians—is being exchanged as I write this, and negotiations for extending the ceasefire by another two days are in progress.

Details are emerging about the condition that Israeli hostages were kept in while in Hamas captivity. According to his relatives, a 12-year-old boy, Eitan Yahalomi, was held in solitary confinement for over two weeks and, after seeing his father murdered on October 7, was forced to watch Hamas videos recounting their atrocities that day over and over again. When he cried out, a gun was pointed at him to shut him up. Emily Hand, who turned nine in captivity, came back conditioned not to make noise, her father told CNN’s Clarissa Ward. Emily, her father said, now speaks in a barely audible whisper and sobs herself to sleep at night. Avigail Idan, who turned 4 in captivity, emerged an orphan. Her parents were killed on October 7—her father was shot while holding her— and she ran to neighbors who saved her while covered in his blood. An 84-year-old woman was released in dire condition: her pulse was 40 and her body temperature was 82 degrees Fahrenheit.