Unwanted pregnancies: What if Hamas militants impregnate Israeli hostages?

Following the October 7 assault in southern Israel by Hamas militants, over 130 Israelis still remain captive. A recent report has raised concerns about the possibility of captives, particularly women, facing sexual violence in Gaza, leading to unwanted pregnancies.
Earlier this week, a group of relatives of those held captive stormed a parliamentary committee session in Jerusalem, demanding that the lawmakers do more to try to free their loved ones. The action by about 20 people signalled growing domestic dissent in the fourth month of the Gaza war.
Now, the Israeli Ministries of Welfare and Health are formulating extensive strategies to tackle the potential issue of pregnancies resulting from such abuse, as reported by the New York Post on Wednesday.
Authorities are contemplating the option to forgo the standard procedures for pregnancy termination to expedite assistance for the victims, recognizing the critical nature of the circumstances. Initial evidence from online footage indicates that women and young girls might have been subjected to sexual violence both during the attack and throughout their captivity.
In collaboration with the Israel Defense Forces, civilian agencies are devising a plan to consolidate support for the sexually abused hostages. The Wolfson Hospital in Holon is prepared to offer both medical and psychological assistance, having established the necessary infrastructure and protocols to care for the released captives.
The proposed plan involves a dual-phase approach. Initially, medical personnel will evaluate physical injuries and verify any pregnancies. Subsequently, the focus will shift to aiding the victims in coping with their trauma, which includes making decisions regarding potential pregnancies.
During a session in the Knesset, Chen Almog-Goldstein, a former hostage who spent over 50 days in Gaza, shed light on the dire situation of younger female captives, some of whom have ceased menstruating, heightening the risk of unwanted pregnancies the longer they remain captive.
Family members of the female hostages are pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and international leaders to hasten the release of the captives, citing the escalating risk of pregnancies that may become too advanced to terminate.
Professor Tal Biron-Shental, the head of obstetrics and gynecology at Meir Medical Center, stressed the urgency of addressing this “theoretical possibility,” advocating for prompt measures to avert further horrors and ensure proper care for the captives upon their return.
Chilling narratives from those who have been released underscore the prevalence of sexual violence in Gaza. Aviva Siegel, a liberated captive, recounted to officials the dehumanizing treatment of female hostages, who were manipulated like “puppets” by the terrorist group. Eli Albag, father of 18-year-old hostage Liri, voiced his alarm over the muted discourse on these atrocities, noting that while released captives allude to harrowing experiences, they often refrain from divulging explicit details.
Meanwhile, Israel intensified its aggressive campaign in Khan Yunis, a city in Gaza, on Thursday, leading to a significant number of casualties as reported by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group. The Israeli military has effectively besieged Khan Yunis, the birthplace of Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, who is implicated in orchestrating the attacks on October 7 that escalated the conflict.
The Gaza Health Ministry’s data indicates a grave humanitarian crisis, with over 25,700 fatalities and approximately 63,000 injuries reported in the region since the October 7 incident. During this attack in southern Israel, militants from Gaza were responsible for the deaths of about 1,200 individuals and the abduction of roughly 250 hostages.
(With inputs from agencies)

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