The deputy mayor of Jerusalem demanded ‘proof of life’ for the more than 200 hostages estimated to have been taken from Israel by Hamas militants and other assurances before humanitarian aide promised by President Biden or any other government arrives in Gaza for Palestinians.
‘The first thing we need is proof of life. We haven’t had anything,’ Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum told Fox News Digital. ‘We haven’t had the Red Cross being able to see them. We haven’t had the U.N. even talking about the hostages. What happens to our hostages as 3- and 5-month-old babies, and their mothers, mothers with three children, young women serially raped, paraded down the street, an old lady with dementia in a wheelchair, people ridiculing her down the street and abusing her. Who are these people and why?’
‘This is something that I think we cannot give up on the hostages,’ she said, speaking from Israel via Zoom. ‘We need to demand, if you want humanitarian assistance, we understand that. But we need our hostages to be a priority for all governments and for our government. And any type of humanitarian assistance has to be conditional on the assurance that our hostages, especially the injured ones, will at least be having medical treatment. And we haven’t had any assurances of anything.’
President Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. is providing $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.
‘I’m all for humanitarian aid, but the problem is that the leadership in the West Bank is corrupt. So they steal from their people. They also pay terrorists pension, life pensions for every Jew they kill,’ Hassan-Nahoum told Fox News Digital. ‘And that’s why in the United States, you guys passed the Taylor Force Act after a man called Taylor Force, who essentially was killed, murdered by Palestinian terrorists, and his killers are getting a life pension. And the American government passed a law that they wouldn’t give any money to the Palestinians until the ‘pay for slay’ policy was rescinded, which it never was. And so I understand that President Biden is doing this from a good place.’
‘It’s just very difficult to get decent accountability from the Palestinian leadership,’ she said. ‘The most minimum thing I would ask for is to ensure that the money does not go to an educational system. Their educational system is basically teaching hatred and how to kill Jews, and Palestinian Authority funds, which they receive from around the world, are paying pensions to people who kill Jews, thereby incentivizing people to kill Jews. And the more you kill, the higher the pension. And so that’s my fear.’
‘And as long as we can guarantee or the U.S. can guarantee through its different nonprofit arms here on the ground that it is actually going to humanitarian aid, then I’m in favor,’ she said. ‘But very few people can actually give us those guarantees.’
As for the educational system in Palestine and concern in the West over taking in Gazan refugees taught to hate Jews, Hassan-Nahoum added, ‘The irony is that the U.N., through their schools that are funded by the international community, are actually teaching this hatred curriculum. So, you know, it’s interesting. So you — we get, they get money for teaching hatred and then, of course, nobody wants to take them in as refugees. But why are you giving them the money to begin with?’
David Satterfield, newly tapped as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues, met with Israeli and Egyptian officials Thursday ‘to develop the exact mechanisms to implement the framework’ that Secretary of State Antony Blinken negotiated with Israel on Monday regarding the deliveries of humanitarian assistance and that Biden ‘cemented yesterday when he was able to secure commitments from both Israel and Egypt,’ State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.
At a press conference, Miller declined to go into the details of the negotiations while admitting Israelis ‘have very serious concerns about the diversion of humanitarian assistance’ and the potential of it being ‘diverted to Hamas.’ He also said that ‘it’s important that the innocent civilians in Gaza who did not start this conflict have access to food and water and medicine.’
‘Our work to secure the release of hostages continues to be a top priority,’ Miller also said Thursday. ‘And of course, our message… to other countries and entities hostile to Israel continues to be clear: Do not enter this conflict.’
Hassan-Nahoum explained that while she and her husband moved to Israel in 2001 and have lived there through several conflicts — including about five wars in Gaza, a second Lebanon war, and an intifada with suicide bombers on buses, in cafés or public places — she has never before seen the level of ‘barbarity’ or ‘ISIS-like behavior’ seen when Hamas militants slaughtered more than 1,300 civilians, including at least 32 American citizens, and kidnapped at least 203 others, including about 30 children and 20 elderly people on Oct. 7.
‘This is what happened in Afghanistan, in certain areas of Africa… with Boko Haram, the terrorist group. This never happened in Israeli territory, this type of level of barbarity and cruelty. And in fact, it’s the worst day, worst massacre on Jewish people since the Holocaust,’ Hassan-Nahoum said. ‘We had a Yom Kippur War 50 years ago, which was also a war that put Israel unawares, it was surprise. But it was mainly… and there were a lot of casualties… too many casualties, but it was combatants. You know, in a war, you expect combatant casualties. You don’t expect 5-month-old babies to be decapitated and 5-month-old babies to be kidnapped. You don’t see that. Who does that?’
‘And so this is kind of the shock and trauma that we are continuously facing,’ she said. ‘And it’s kind of an ongoing trauma because until the hostages are returned home, we’re not going to have any peace, not amongst ourselves, and we’re not going to be able to be in a place where we can even begin to start healing.’
Hassan-Nahoum, who has four children who are teenagers and older, said she advised them to avoid going to the movies or remaining out at night amid concern over Muslim terror cells in Israel — but stressed that for the most part, she believes Arab Israelis too are ‘completely disgusted by the massacre and what was done.’
‘Even within Israel, unfortunately, we have kind of these Hamas sleeper cells and radical groups, some Muslim Brotherhood activists and groups. And so we fear that maybe some of these terrorists remained here and managed to escape the army and are hiding somewhere. And that’s, that’s scary. In Jerusalem itself, we feared that the radical elements in East Jerusalem and honestly, most people in East Jerusalem are peace-loving people who just, we work together,’ she said.
‘There’s good people here, but unfortunately, there’s the radicals and the radicalized and the genocidal, you know, terrorists and the people who don’t accept Israel’s right to exist at all, who are on, you know, who are rooting for the bad guys,’ Hassan-Nahoum continued. ‘These people — you kill a baby, you get, you kidnapped a baby, you decapitate a baby, you’re a bad person. Simple as that. No buts, no excuses. And so I think that most people I’ve spoken to from the Arab community have been totally empathetic and sympathetic.’
The deputy mayor also had a stern message to the worldwide press after many outlets accepts claims at face value from Palestinian authorities that an Israeli strike hit a Gaza hospital, killing hundreds of people. Israel and even U.S. intelligence later came out asserting that in fact the hospital blast was caused by an Islamic jihadist rocket misfire.
‘I think the press has a particular responsibility here, and that is that they really need to understand that Hamas is not exactly the reliable media source,’ Hassan-Nahoum said. ‘ Why is the press reporting and taking a statement from Hamas at face value when they say that at the same time they say they didn’t kill civilians? We know what they did. We know the massacre they did… You have huge anti-Semitic threats around the world. Jews become vulnerable [to] attack when you put out an uncorroborated statement from a terrorist group.’
Like the U.S. was on 9/11, she said Israel is under attack by the same ‘jihadi fundamentalists who want to take the world back 500 years.’