Israeli hostage to UN: We can't normalize this unprecedented terror

Shoshan Haran, a released Israeli hostage, speaks with an Israeli soldier shortly after her arrival in Israel

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Shoshan Haran, her daughter and two grandchildren were taken hostage by Hamas militants in Israel on Oct. 7. On Thursday, Haran recalled the effects of 50 days in captivity on her three-year-old granddaughter when they were finally released.

"Three weeks after we were released, Yahel only whispers, too afraid to make a noise. She hid from everyone, too afraid to go outside. She wet the bed and had nightmares, too afraid she may be captured again," Haran told an informal U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday, convened by the United States.

Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The U.S. focused the meeting on "condemning hostage-taking in Israel on Oct. 7 as a psychological tool of terrorism."

Ayelet Samerano, whose son was killed on Oct. 7 and his body taken by Hamas, and Gili Roman, whose sister was taken hostage and released in November, also addressed the gathering.

"We cannot allow the normalization of this unprecedented form of terrorism - mass hostage taking of unarmed civilians, women, children, elderly," said Haran, now 68, founder of farming and food security charity Fair Planet.

"What you see as our problem today might become a worldwide problem to each and every country near future," she said.

In three resolutions, the U.N. Security Council has called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

"Yet Hamas and other terrorist groups have not relented. So today, let us again demand Hamas release all remaining hostages," said U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. "To put it simply: It would save lives on all sides."


Israel is retaliating against Hamas in Gaza over the Oct. 7 attack. Gaza health authorities say Israel has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza since then.

"Unfortunately, in the occupied Palestinian territories, we see the barbaric killing machine of the Israeli occupier wreaking havoc in Gaza under the pretext of ensuring the release of the hostages," said Algerian diplomat Ahmed Sahraoui.

He said the issue of hostage-taking was of "paramount importance" and criticized Israel for detaining Palestinians.

The Palestinian Prisoners Association says at least 9,100 Palestinians are detained in Israel. That does not include those arrested in Gaza since Oct. 7. Israel's military says it acts according to Israeli and international law and those it arrests get access to food, water, medication and proper clothing.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the meeting that 132 hostages taken on Oct. 7 are still being held in Gaza and that this was the "first meeting being held by any U.N. body to focus on their suffering and ways to release them."

"The hostages are the most urgent and critical humanitarian issue that the council must focus on," Erdan told the meeting.

"Has the council condemned Hamas and demanded they permit the Red Cross to check on the hostages? Have you imposed sanctions on Hamas leadership until they release the hostages? What action has been taken?" he said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)