Senior Israeli and international academics call on UN Secretary-General to take action to secure release of Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas
Senior Israeli and international academics are calling on the UN Secretary-General to take action to secure the release of Israeli children abducted in Gaza and prevent irreparable harm.
Approximately 400 senior figures in Israeli and international academia, along with around 700 additional experts from various disciplines and academic institutions, have joined their voices in urging the international community to act swiftly for the immediate release of the Israeli children held captive in Gaza.
In their letter, these experts emphasized the devastating consequences of this traumatic event on the lives and development of the abducted children, placing them at risk of long-term harm. The severity of these consequences intensifies with each passing day that they remain in the custody of Hamas.
Leading experts from a range of fields, including social work, psychology, criminology, law, medicine, and public policy, have come together from around the world to sign this letter, appealing for the prompt release of the 30 Israeli children who were captured during the brutal attack on October 7. The initiative was a collaborative effort between senior experts from prominent Israeli academic institutions such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, The University of Haifa, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Bar Ilan University, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in conjunction with the families of the abductees and missing persons.
Ben-Gurion University's Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria, "My primary concern these days is for the young children and their parents who are being held hostage by Hamas. It's heartbreaking to think about the infants and young children who have been kidnapped, separated from their parents, and held as hostages in dangerous conditions.
"Unlike adults, young children are limited in their ability to understand the experiences they are going through or to deploy defense mechanisms to help them cope with the prolonged trauma they are enduring in captivity. Each day that passes deepens the emotional damage that these children are experiencing. I hope that each of the infants and children held by Hamas has a caring adult, "an angel," who looks after them and provides them with the essential sense of security needed to continue living even under these terrible circumstances."
The letter, signed by experts from various countries, provides a detailed account of the events on October 7, the legal framework for protecting children during times of conflict, and the psychological and developmental damage inflicted on these children, which continues to worsen with each passing moment. The experts stress the severe and indescribable brutality these children have endured, including witnessing the murder of their immediate family members, which poses a tangible threat to their mental and physical well-being.
Prominent researchers from around the world, including New Zealand, Brazil, various European countries, and the United States, have lent their support to this cause.
Signatories of the letter include academic researchers from esteemed institutions such as Yale University, Duke University, Harvard University, and UCLA. Some notable signatories are:
- Prof. Jack Schonkoff: A renowned expert in children's mental health and the effects of trauma on child development, affiliated with Harvard University.
- Prof. Judith Lewis Herman: A Harvard University psychiatrist known for her groundbreaking work
on complex PTSD and her contributions to trauma research and treatment.
- Prof. Edward Tronick: An American developmental psychologist with unique insights into disrupted mother-child interaction, recognized worldwide for his contributions.
- Prof. Alicia Lieberman: A world-renowned psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, specializing in child trauma treatment.
- Prof. Charles Zeanah: A child and adolescent psychiatrist at Tulane University, USA, and a global expert in infant, child, and adolescent mental health.
- Prof. Astrid Berg: President of the World Association for Infant Mental Health and a psychiatrist at the University of Cape Town.
- Prof. Avshalom Caspi: A distinguished Israeli-American psychologist at Duke University, known for groundbreaking research on the impact of violent experiences in childhood on development.
- Prof. Eli Lebowitz: A psychologist at Yale University, internationally recognized for expertise in childhood anxiety.