Palestinian Islamic Jihad posts video of Amazon employee held captive in Gaza since Oct 7

On Monday, following the worldwide attention to the captivity of Alexander ‘Sasha’ Troufanov, an Amazon employee who has been held as a hostage in Gaza since Oct 7, Palestinian Islamic Jihad released a “proof of life” video showing the 28-year-old. However, there was no date in the video and no way to verify when it was taken.   

Days before the video, it was reported that the tech giant had banned workers from posting signs marking the number of days one of the tech giant’s employees has been held hostage by terrorists. Troufanov, a computer engineer with Tel Aviv-based Amazon subsidiary Annapurna Labs, was among the 250 people kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during their attack on Israel on October 7 and remains in captivity. 

Jewish employees at Amazon’s locations in Israel and around the world wanted to hang signs in company offices tracking the days Hamas was holding Troufanov, but Amazon executives in the company’s human resources department reportedly shut down the idea and then refused to put the directive in writing, per Hebrew business newspaper Globes.

“Someone had the idea to hang signs that noted the amount of time that Sasha was working at Amazon juxtaposed with the number of days that he has been held captive, but the directive was not to hang them,” one employee said. However, some Amazon employees in Israel began hanging the posters anyway and also posted events such as “Coffee For Sasha.” Some made shirts with Amazon Prime’s logo demanding Troufanov’s release while others posted about him on their social media. 

According to the report, Amazon’s management has allowed these activities to take place at the Israeli subsidiary without intervening or cracking down. Another Amazon worker told the Globes that workers in other locations around the world were fearful of repercussions from HR, adding that employees have been disappointed and upset by the silence from CEO Andy Jassy and other executives. Friends of Troufanov flew to Las Vegas, where the CEO of Amazon Web Services spoke at a conference weeks after the attacks and hired a truck showing his name and face to drive near the conference. 

Neta Yesood Alon, a friend of Sasha’s, told Globes that Amazon’s silence was hypocritical given how in the past the tech giant had supported movements such as Black Lives Matter, “but when it comes to a kidnapped employee held hostage in Gaza, it sees it as a political issue.” She claimed an Amazon employee told her, “Public statements on his case will put him in danger… They told activists and the family that any official public statement from Amazon could endanger Troufanov and they don’t want to turn Sasha into the poster boy of the kidnapped Israelis because that would drive up [the price that the Israeli government would have to pay] to release him.” 

Alon added that she asked the former head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, if this was true, and his answer was “unequivocally no.” 

A spokesperson for the tech giant told Globes, “We continue to focus all of our efforts to bring Sasha home safe and to extend support to his family during these difficult times. Our thoughts are with them and with all of those who continue to be impacted by the war.” 

Hamas terrorists stormed Troufanov’s home in Kibbutz Nir Oz and kidnapped him, his girlfriend, Sapir Cohen; his mother, Yelena Troufanov, and his grandmother, Irena Tati. They also killed Troufanov’s father, Vitali, and over 1,000 other Israelis. Troufanov’s girlfriend, mother, and grandmother and girlfriend were released as part of a hostages-for-Hamas swap in November. 

Troufanov remains in Hamas captivity more than seven months after the attack. His girlfriend Sapir Cohen told The Jerusalem Post that on the day of the attacks she had seen him “beaten bloody and thrown face-first into the ground.”

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