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Agam Goldstein Almog

17

Agam, a lively, energetic and charming 17-year-old from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, is deeply engaged in her community. Her love for the kibbutz is evident in her volunteer work and babysitting local kids. In 2014 she was interviewed, expressing a desire for peace, emphasizing that children in Gaza deserve a future just like those anywhere else.
Her life took a tragic turn on October 7th when Kibbutz Kfar Aza was attacked by Hamas terrorists with unprecedented violence. Agam was kidnapped along with her mother Chen and two younger brothers, Gal (11) and Tal (9). Her father, Nadav, and sister, 20-year-old Yam, were brutally murdered at home. Agam recounted the terror they felt when terrorists invaded their safe room, facing the reality of death.
During her 51 days of captivity, Agam lived in fear and uncertainty. She and her family were held in various locations including tunnels and a school - which also served as a rocket launch site. She was forced to adopt a different identity; to dress according to her captors' demands, to accept a new name in Arabic, and to recite prayers from the Quran. Throughout the entire period of captivity, she was allowed to shower only five times. She and her family faced threats if they made any noise, implying their death would be imminent. The devastating news about the demise of beloved Nadav and Yam reached them through an Israeli radio broadcast they overheard one day. They were forbidden from mourning their loss.
The captors used the story of Gilad Shalit to taunt and instill fear in the hostages. A mix of individuals, including a teacher and a university student, the captors stared at Agam, repeating that Israel had forsaken her and that she would remain in Gaza for years, eventually marrying a local. "This fear haunted me, the possibility of this ordeal stretching out indefinitely. They were utterly self-assured, suggesting that our own state was indifferent to our plight."

"I want to make it clear that it wasn't a good place, and the terrorists weren't humane. Any semblance of normalcy was merely a way to maintain our sanity," Agam emphasized in an interview to Israeli television, "We once thought that all people have some kindness in them, but our experiences have shown us that these individuals are genuinely malevolent." Agam added, "Forgiveness and empathy for these individuals are out of the question for us. Any hope for peace we once harbored has been completely eroded, particularly after witnessing their actions firsthand. On one occasion, they took us to a school filled with people, from which they launched missiles, while the crowd chanted 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar' in unison."
During the final week of their captivity, the family encountered numerous other hostages within Gaza's tunnels. Meeting other Israelis brought about a profound sense of connection and belonging. Among them were several women, some of them 19 years young, who endured severe personal violations and harm. The hostages’ experience was marked by moments of shared fears, particularly about sexual violence, a grave concern that tragically became a reality for many of the Israeli captives.
Agam and her family were freed on November 26th under a temporary ceasefire agreement. She recounted, "Out of the blue, we were told to get ready by 9 AM. To those not set for release, they deceitfully said, 'Perhaps tomorrow, God willing.'" Agam admitted fearing it was just a facade, worried about facing the harsh reality outside without her father and sister. "Climbing into the Red Cross vehicle while the Gazan civilians were raging, angrily throwing stones, we feared the worst. The Red Cross staff, defenseless, only heightened our anxiety."
However, when they finally crossed over to safety, the encounter with their own forces was profoundly uplifting. "Hearing friendly voices and seeing kind faces was overwhelming," Chen said. "The sense of abandonment vanished as we were enveloped in care." But this return was bittersweet, with loved ones missing and others still captive. "Receiving such a warm welcome was moving, yet my heart ached. The absence of closure, marked by a funeral and a Shiva, has made our loss feel even more unbearable," Agam concluded.

Upon her return to Israel, Agam has struggled to reconcile with her freedom, haunted by the atrocities she witnessed and the terrorists’ claims that justified the attack as merely the beginning of their efforts. She relayed the terrorists' manipulative advice against returning to their kibbutz, while promising to come back with 40,000 “fighters” to burn the place down, parting with the message: 'Don't remember our faces. And the residents of Gaza ARE good.'
Currently residing in Tel Aviv as refugees, the Goldstein Almogs face the challenge of rebuilding their lives after their home in Kfar Aza was burned to ashes. Agam, reflecting on her interactions with kindergarten children who see her as a maternal figure, contemplates her future, longing for the chance to embrace motherhood before the potential next assault. She remains committed to advocating for the captives still in Gaza, whose plight is urgent, underscoring her role as their voice in the absence of aid from organizations like the Red Cross.
In an interview with "The Washington Post," Agam detailed her harrowing experience during her captivity. She met six women hostages, some injured. Together with her mother, they made do with limited supplies to care for their wounds, reusing bandages that led to infections. Agam revealed the psychological and physical trauma they faced, including sexual assault. This trauma was shared among the captives, creating a bond and providing mutual support.
During a rally to mark 100 days of captivity, Agam passionately voiced the ongoing pain and struggles of her friends still held hostage, inquiring, "Did you manage to eat today? Are you still with each other, or have they divided you? Has he harmed you again? Did he invade your privacy in the shower again, removing your pajamas, touching the scar from the bullet he fired – the one that caused you pain? though his dominance pained you even more."
Agam can be seen testifying on the documentary film "Screams Before Silence", a film by Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of the Meta company, dealing with the sex crimes of Hamas terrorists on October 7.

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