From CNN’s Lauren Izso and Alex Stambaugh
Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs has released detailed instructions outlining how to care for released child hostages, ahead of the release of the first group of hostages later Friday.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops have been advised on how to introduce themselves to the children – who have been held hostage in Gaza for nearly seven weeks – and how to interact with them following their release, before they are admitted to hospitals.
“Children will ask questions such as, ‘Where’s Mum? Where’s Daddy?’ Soldiers should not answer these questions, even if they know the answers. Any questions should be answered along the lines of, ‘Sweetheart, I’m sorry, I don’t know. My job is to bring you to Israel to a safe place, where people you know will be waiting for you and will answer all your questions,'” the advice says.
The guidelines, released ahead of the truce, advise that each child or each family unit should be assigned a soldier and that soldiers should ask the children for permission before touching or picking up the child.
The instructions stress the importance of building routine including rest, balanced meals and moderate physical activity outdoors in the first week, as well as creating open spaces for dialogue about what the child has experienced.
“Avoid verbally overwhelming the child. Avoid multiple questions and detailed discourse about events that happened. The use of simple words and short sentences is important. It is important to convey that we are open and able to hear and talk about difficult things,” the ministry advice says.
A source familiar with the preparations told CNN all hostages will receive noise-canceling headphones to provide “peace and quiet” during the helicopter flight.
On board each helicopter will be a medical team including a commander, three combat soldiers and two doctors, the source said.
The personnel have been advised to introduce themselves by name with a visible face and a smile, maintain eye contact and distance in order to allow the caregivers and support teams to do their work in the best possible way, the source added.
Preparations completed: The IDF said it was ready to receive hostages later Friday and that it had prepared “several locations” dedicated to the initial reception of those released.
“The IDF, in coordination with government ministries and security authorities, have prepared to quickly receive the released hostages and give them all the necessary support,” the IDF said in a statement.
The IDF said that “after the initial reception and medical treatment, the released hostages will continue to hospitals, where they will be reunited with their families.”