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WSJ: The Hostages Next Door: Inside A Notable Gaza Family’s Dark Secret

Neighbors of the Gazan families who held the hostages rescued last Shabbos were stunned to discover that in a neighborhood where “a cough can be heard through the walls,” a dark secret was taking place, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

“The 73-year-old general practitioner Ahmad Al-Jamal was a fixture of his community.

He worked mornings at a public clinic in the Gaza Strip refugee camp of Nuseirat and afternoons at his own small private clinic, where residents turned to him for procedures such as circumcisions. He also was an imam at a local mosque, where he was known for his beautiful voice when reciting the Quran.

But for the past several months, when he finished his duties each day, he would return home to the apartment he shared with his son, his daughter-in-law and their children—and the three Israeli hostages they were hiding there for Hamas.

It was common knowledge in Nuseirat that the Al-Jamal family was close to Hamas, according to local residents who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. But they said few people in the densely populated area in central Gaza knew of the secret locked in the small, darkened room in the family’s apartment.

The hostages and Israeli security forces have said their captors included Al-Jamal’s son, 37-year-old Palestinian journalist Abdullah Al-Jamal. From their locked and guarded room, the hostages said, they could hear Abdullah and his wife, Fatma, a phlebotomist at a local clinic, and their children going about their daily lives in the apartment.

A few blocks away from the Al-Jamal home, another family with Hamas links called Abu Nar was holding Noa Argamani, according to local residents and an Israeli official. Argamani’s kidnapping at the Nova festival was recorded on video, making her one of the best-known of the roughly 250 hostages taken Oct. 7.

The Abu Nar family was also killed, and their building destroyed, local residents said. They were less prominent in the neighborhood than the Al-Jamals, residents said.

Surviving members of the Al-Jamal family declined to comment or weren’t reachable.

The June 8 rescue operation was accompanied by heavy airstrikes and turned into a fierce battle with Hamas in the streets, leaving behind death and destruction. In the days since, local residents have discussed the folly of Hamas keeping Israeli hostages above ground in a residential area near a bustling market.

Some people said they were surprised by the revelation, because it is hard to keep a secret in the densely built neighborhood. Even a cough can be heard through the walls of the concrete and cinder-block apartment buildings, they said.

Others were furious that Hamas had put civilians in danger. Any Israeli military action in the narrow streets of Nuseirat was bound to result in large numbers of dead and wounded, some residents said.

Some locals said Hamas should have held the hostages in tunnels. Others said they should have been returned to Israel as part of a deal to end the war. [None of them mentioned that Hamas shouldn’t have taken hostages in the first place.]

Local residents said Ahmad and Abdullah Al-Jamal were part of an extended family that had a number of ties to Hamas. Mosques throughout Gaza are controlled by Hamas, and imams serve with the approval of the terror group. Ahmad’s brother Abdelrahman Al-Jamal is a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza’s legislative council.

Abdullah was a freelance contributor to the Palestine Chronicle, a pro-Palestinian news website based in the U.S. He also worked for the Hamas-run news agency Palestine Now, according to Gaza’s government media office, which noted his death, and had served as a spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Labor.

He made no secret of his support for the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, in which nearly 1,200 people were killed, most of them civilians. 

“Praise be to God…Oh G-d, guide us…Oh G-d, guide us…Oh G-d, guide us…Oh G-d, grant us the victory you promised,” Abdullah posted on Facebook on Oct. 7.

The Palestine Chronicle said it was saddened by his death and denied he was involved in holding the Israeli hostages.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

5 Responses

  1. Secret? What do you expect them to say? An American reporter asks people “Are you a war criminal?”, and it is a case where their side is losing the war, do you really expect them to answer other than to deny their involvement.

  2. Wow, the last paragraph is the best ending! It’s day outside but I deny it 🤔. I mean the guy lived in the apartment, he was killed there! He just so happened to be there at that moment?

  3. ” few people in the densely populated area in central Gaza knew of the secret”
    So he admits that a ”few” people knew about it. And there is no follow up question of ”How many is a few”????
    They all knew. Every. single. one.

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