Friend of Berkeley native held hostage by Hamas feels 'relief' after newly released video

Gloria Rodríguez Image
Thursday, April 25, 2024
Friend of Berkeley native held hostage by Hamas reacts to new video
Aaron Katler describes how he felt when he saw the video showing his friend, 24-year-old Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who is being held hostage by Hamas.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Hersh Goldberg-Polin is among the 129 hostages still believed to be in Gaza. He was born in the Bay Area.

Friends of that Berkeley native being held hostage by Hamas are reacting to that newly-released video of him.

Aaron Katler describes the emotions he felt when he saw the video showing his friend, 24-year-old Goldberg-Polin, who is being held hostage by Hamas.

"A lot of tears, a lot of confused emotions," Katler said. "I would say the three main emotions were relief, concern and urgency. It was the relief. it was proof of him being alive. Nobody had seen anything of him since the video of him being abducted."

RELATED: Video of kidnapped son brings 'total mix' of emotions, say parents of Hamas hostage

Video of son kidnapped by Hamas brings 'total mix' of emotions: Parents

Thursday marks 202 days since Hamas took the Berkeley native from a music festival in Israel.

Hamas released a heavily edited video of Goldberg-Polin on their telegram channel.

He's seen with part of his left arm amputated.

While the video is concerning, it also gives Katler even more hope Goldberg-Polin will be released alive.

RELATED: Video released by Hamas of American from Chicago taken hostage at music festival on Oct. 7

Josh Einiger has more on the chilling video.

"There's a lot of hope and belief that he was alive but to see the proof that he was, there was relief in that and a lot of concern about his well-being," Katler said.

Katler knows Goldberg-Polin's parents well from growing up in Chicago. And they even all lived in Berkeley on the same property when Goldberg-Polin was a baby, before the family moved to Israel.

"It's a scene out of a movie," said Katler, who lives in Berkeley and heads up a national Jewish nonprofit, UpStart. "When you see a hostage proof-of-life video and knowing the kid who was in that video, knowing the sweet 24-year-old kid who I babysat for."

Thursday morning, Goldberg-Polin's parents spoke to Good Morning America. They say they're relieved he is alive but are concerned for his well-being.

MORE: President Biden signs a $95B war aid measure with assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

"We see a level of distress," father Jon Polin said. "We see some things that concern us about his health. Not only obviously his arm that we knew was blown off. So for us, we've already been fighting for 202 days at this point for his release and the release of all the hostages. It's fueled us even more. We need everybody involved in these negotiations to lean in, get this done, get these people home."

Katler is holding on to hope. He lives in Berkeley and went to Israel recently to lend his support to Goldberg-Polin family.

A senior administration official talked about the status of reaching a deal to release the hostages and didn't give new details but said it's very forward-leaning.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live