Kidnapping of Hersh Goldberg-Polin

On 7 October 2023, 23-year-old American-Israeli Hersh Goldberg-Polin (Hebrew: הרש גולדברג-פולין) was wounded and abducted by Hamas from the Re'im music festival massacre, part of the 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.

Kidnapping of Hersh Goldberg
Part of 2023 Hamas-led attack on Israel
LocationEshkol Regional Council, Israel
Date7 October 2023; 8 months ago (2023-10-07)
Attack type
VictimHersh Goldberg-Polin, aged 23


Goldberg-Polin is the son of Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg,[1] both originally from the Chicago area. He was born in Berkeley, California, and then lived in Richmond, Virginia,[2] before immigrating to Israel with his family in 2008 at the age of 7.[3] Goldberg-Polin has two younger sisters.[4][5] Goldberg-Polin was reportedly working with an initiative that was using soccer to bring Israeli and Palestinian children together.[6] He had reportedly planned a two-year world travel trip that was to start during the last week of December 2023, before the October 7 attacks.[7]


Hersh Goldberg Polin at the exhibition of the abductees at the National Library of Israel

Goldberg-Polin was at the Re'im music festival when Hamas attacked the morning of 7 October. At around 8:00am, he sent his family a text message, "I love you". Ten minutes later he added, "I'm sorry."[8] During the attack, Goldberg-Polin, his best friend Aner Shapira, and others took refuge in a field shelter. Hamas militants repeatedly threw grenades into the shelter.[9]

Shapira managed to throw seven of the grenades back out, before being killed.[10] During the attack on the shelter, Goldberg-Polin's arm was blown off from the elbow down. He reportedly managed to fashion himself a tourniquet for his injury.[9] Surviving witnesses from the shelter confirmed they had seen militants abducting a wounded Goldberg-Polin and others on a truck.[11] His family members report to have seen a video of Goldberg-Polin's actions leading up to him being taken hostage.[7] The video reportedly ends with Goldberg-Polin being shown getting into the back of a pickup truck, with the traumatic amputation and revealed bone of his left arm, showing as he turns to sit down.[6]

Media coverage and efforts to release

Goldberg-Polin's family and friends have launched a thorough media and diplomatic campaign to secure his release.[9][12][13] In late December 2023 it was reported that Goldberg-Polin's parents have spoken to and petitioned a slew of politicians and others in regards to their son. They have spoken to United Nations (UN) in New York and Geneva, Pope Francis, Elon Musk, President Joe Biden, US Secretary Antony Blinken, 25 US senators, seven governors and multiple different celebrities and influencers. His mother has taken to wearing a shirt with a number taped on it each day, to track the days that he has been kept as a hostage.[7]

On 24 October at the UN, Goldberg-Polin's mother, Rachel Goldberg, delivered an emotional speech imploring for the release of her son and the other hostages from Hamas: "Why is no one crying out for these people to be allowed access to the Red Cross? Why is no one demanding just proof of life? This is a global humanitarian catastrophe."[14][15][16] Rachel also addressed the 14 November March for Israel in Washington, D.C., leading the crowd in a chant of "Bring them home now!" She asked, "Why is the world accepting that 240 human beings from almost 30 countries have been stolen and buried alive?"[17]

A Kidnapped from Israel banner hanging from a building in Jerusalem in May 2024

Goldberg-Polin was not released during the temporary cease-fire in late November 2023 which saw the exchange of 105 hostages taken by Hamas for the release of 240 Palestinian prisoners, 107 of whom were children, and three-quarters had not been convicted of a crime. Family members had met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israel war cabinet along with other hostages family members to petition to resume negotiations for a new cease-fire.[18][19] On 27 December, when Goldberg-Polin was reportedly scheduled to start his world travel trip, his father and about 50 others gathered at the Ben Gurion Airport to bring attention to his continued captivity.[20]

On 24 April 2024, Hamas released a nearly 3-minute-long video of Goldberg-Polin while in captivity. In it, he identifies himself, and says the Israeli government should be "ashamed" for "carrying their mission in Gaza" as the Israeli captives are stuck in an "underground hell with no food or water". Goldberg-Polin was filmed with an apparent healed amputation of his left arm, highlighting the injury he suffered during the Re'im music festival massacre.[21][22][23] The video was not dated, but based on Goldberg-Polin stating he had been held captive for nearly 200 days, experts believe that the video was filmed recently to its airing. Following the video release his parents issued their statement, expressing joy at seeing and hearing him speak, but also imploring all the leaders working for a hostage deal to help bring him home.[24]

See also


  1. ^ "What Matters Now to Rachel Goldberg: Her son Hersh, held hostage by Hamas". The Times of Israel. 20 October 2023.
  2. ^ Washburn, Kaitlin; Sweet, Lynn (21 October 2023). "Son of Chicagoans, Hersh Goldberg-Polin among five Hamas hostages with Illinois ties". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  3. ^ "'How Much Can This Child Take?'". The Atlantic. 7 November 2023. Archived from the original on 7 November 2023.
  4. ^ "'Bring him home': A Pittsburgh rabbi's personal connection to a Hamas hostage". Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. 2 November 2023.
  5. ^ "'We just want him home': missing Hersh's parents tell 'Post'". The Jerusalem Post. 8 October 2023. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. ^ a b Odzer, Ari (22 December 2023). "'Slow-motion trauma': Agony never ends for mother whose son was taken hostage". NBC 6 South Florida. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b c Tavel, Jimena (29 December 2023). "'We feel excruciating agony.' Hamas hostage's mother with Florida roots seeks help for son". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  8. ^ "Young American-Israeli captive in Gaza is badly injured, father says". The Jerusalem Post. 23 October 2023. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  9. ^ a b c "Taken captive: Hersh Goldberg-Polin tied his own tourniquet". The Times of Israel. 17 October 2023.
  10. ^ "Watch: Aner Shapira tosses out grenades thrown into shelter on Oct. 7, saving those inside". The Times of Israel. 14 November 2023.
  11. ^ "This Israeli couple's son is in enemy hands. They're determined to get him back". Los Angeles Times. 10 October 2023. Archived from the original on 12 October 2023.
  12. ^ Coles, Isabel (16 October 2023). "'I'm Not a Diplomat…I'm a Mom.' The American Parents Thrust Into the Israeli Hostage Crisis". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  13. ^ "He's a survivor: A mother fights for son kidnapped by Hamas militants". AP News. 16 October 2023. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  14. ^ "A Message From Beyond the Planet of Pain: In a Land Without Sleep Rachel Goldberg Finds, During the Dread, a Sliver of Hope". The New York Sun. 25 October 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  15. ^ "'I don't know if my son died yesterday or five minutes ago'". The Jerusalem Post. 25 October 2023. Retrieved 17 November 2023.
  16. ^ "'This is a global humanitarian catastrophe,' says the mother of one of Hamas' hostages". NPR. 24 October 2023.
  17. ^ "Big Chicago contingent attends March for Israel rally in Washington". Chicago Sun-Times. 15 November 2023. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  18. ^ Shao, Elena (December 2023). "Freed Palestinians Were Mostly Young and Not Convicted of Crimes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  19. ^ Livesay, Chris (6 December 2023). "For one Israeli hostage's family, 'anguish,' and a promise after meeting Netanyahu: 'We're coming.' – CBS News". Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  20. ^ "Supporters of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin rally at Ben Gurion Airport". The Times of Israel. 27 December 2023. Retrieved 29 December 2023.
  21. ^ Reals, Tucker (24 April 2024). "Hamas releases video of injured Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin - CBS News". Retrieved 24 April 2024.
  22. ^ Greene, Eyad Kourdi, Pauline Lo, Lauren Izso, Richard Allen (24 April 2024). "Hamas releases video of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin in proof he survived Oct. 7 injuries". CNN. Retrieved 24 April 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ i24NEWS (24 April 2024). "Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin seen alive in a new Hamas video". I24news. Retrieved 24 April 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  24. ^ Fabian, Emanuel; Magid, Jacob; Steinberg, Jessica; Bachner, Michael (24 April 2024). "'Stay strong,' parents urge Hersh Goldberg-Polin after Hamas airs propaganda clip". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 May 2024.