Hamas drugged hostages to make them seem happy after 50 days in captivity, says Israel

The drugging would have aimed to make the hostages appear calm, happy and upbeat, health ministry says


RAFAH, GAZA - NOVEMBER 30: Hostages are transported in International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles from the Gaza Strip through the Rafah land crossing on November 30, 2023 in Rafah, Gaza. Israel and Hamas agreed to a further extension to a truce that has lasted nearly a week, which promised the release of more Israeli hostages held in Gaza, as well as the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Hamas terrorists drugged freed hostages to make them seem happy after 50 days in captivity, a senior Israeli health official has said.

Dr Hagar Mizrahi said the hostages were given tranquilliser pills before being handed over to the Red Cross for transfer to Israel.

The head of the Health Ministry’s medical division told the Knesset Health Committee the drugging would have aimed to make the hostages appear calm, happy and positive.

Dr Mizrahi named the drug Clonazepam, which is used to treat anxiety disorders, seizures, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The ministry representative did not disclose whether the drugging had been confirmed by blood tests or from the freed hostages’ testimony.

Normally administered orally, the drug has a calming effect on the nervous system. Side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, impaired coordination and fatigue.

Long-term use or misuse of the medication can lead to dependency, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.

Hamas documented the releases for propaganda purposes, which showed some of the hostages appearing friendly or in a positive mood.

Heath Committee Chairman Yonatan Mishraki (Shas) ordered the Health Ministry to publish a detailed report about the drugging and other medical conditions of the released hostages and to send them to other health organizations around the world.

Meanwhile, the Israeli parliament voted to form a subcommittee that will work to create a legal framework for the prosecution of Hamas terrorists who participated in the terror group’s October 7 massacre.

“Time and again, we have encountered the huge gap that exists in the ability of the criminal law in Israel and abroad to cope with terrorist attacks,” stated Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Simcha Rothman, who will chair the subcommittee.

“When dealing with terrorism, we have to rethink almost all the basic assumptions both in the executive branch and in the judicial branch. The legislative authority should give its opinion on the legal issues,” added Rothman.

It comes as Israel said it was considering a plan to pump seawater into Hamas’ tunnel system underneath the Gaza Strip, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing US officials.

The IDF has assembled five large seawater pumps capable of transferring thousands of cubic meters of water per hour from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels, according to the report.

Work was reportedly completed on the pumps around the middle of November. They are located roughly one mile north of the Al-Shati Camp along northern Gaza’s coastline.

Israel first informed the Biden administration of the plans in early November, the officials said, with discussions on the effectiveness of such an operation and the potential environmental impact, including on the Strip’s water supply.

The officials said the reaction in Washington was mixed, with some supporting it and others privately expressing concerns, although “there wasn’t necessarily any US opposition to the plan.”

US officials said that they didn’t know how close Israel was to carrying out the plans, with a final decision on whether to proceed still pending.

Israel has discovered around 800 tunnels so far during the Gaza ground operation that began on October 27, with 500 of them destroyed or sealed. The IDF has also destroyed hundreds of miles of tunnels in addition to the shafts.

(JNS contributed to this report) 

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