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4-year-old American hostage released by Hamas, Biden says

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President Biden announced Sunday that a 4-year-old American Israeli citizen, Abigail Idan, was among the 13 hostages released Sunday from Gaza.

“Two days ago, two days ago, one of our fellow Americans, a little girl named Abigail, turned 4 years old. She spent her birthday, that birthday … held hostage by Hamas. Today, she’s free, and [first lady Jill Biden] and I, together with so many Americans, are praying for the fact that she is going to be alright. She’s free, and she’s in Israel now,” Biden said in remarks Sunday.

“What she endured is unthinkable. Abigail was among 13 hostages released today from Gaza under the brokered [deal] and sustained though intensive U.S. diplomacy. She’s now safely in Israel. And we continue to press and expect for additional Americans [to] be released as well,” he added. “And we will not stop working until every hostage is returned to their loved ones.” 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Sunday just prior to Biden’s remarks that 17 hostages were released by Hamas on the third day of the hostage deal, which included a four-day pause in fighting in Gaza. There were 14 Israelis released and three additional nationals, the IDF said.

Biden praised the cooperation between leaders of Qatar, Jordan, Egypt and others throughout the region and pledged to continue working through diplomatic means until all hostages were released.

In a subsequent readout on Sunday, the White House announced Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the rounds of hostages released and about the ongoing pause in fighting and efforts to secure humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

“The Prime Minister thanked the President for his tireless efforts to help broker and fully implement this deal. The two leaders agreed that the work is not yet done and that they will continue working to secure the release of all hostages. The two leaders agreed to remain in close contact over the coming days,” the White House readout said.

Biden on Sunday also spoke with family members of the four-year-old American-Israeli citizen released, in Israel and in America, according to the White House. By the latest count of those released, there remains just under 200 hostages in Gaza who were taken on Oct. 7.

The president provided an overall update on aspects of the deal reached last week in which fighting has been paused since Friday, where 58 hostages have been released since, including Israeli, Thai, Filipino and Russian nationals. More than 200 aid trucks have gone into Gaza each day during the fighting to deliver humanitarian supplies to those in need.

“Dozens of families have been reunited and we worked urgently, urgently to take advantage of the pause to surge aid into Gaza,” he said. “We’ve moved approximately 200 aid trucks into Gaza each day, loaded with food, water, medicine, fuel and cooking gas.”

“More is needed. But this deal is delivering life-saving results. Critically needed aid is going in, and hostages are coming out,” Biden said.

The deal included a pause in fighting in exchange for the release of hostages and the allowance of additional humanitarian aid into Gaza. As part of the deal, 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel are also to be released in West Bank.

Biden praised the structure of the deal, noting that he is hoping that Hamas decides to continue to release hostages, which would ensure more aid can be delivered in Gaza.

“This deal is structured so that it can be extended, to keep building on these results. That’s my goal. That’s our goal. To keep this pause going beyond tomorrow. So that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief into those in need in Gaza,” he said.

Updated 4:07 p.m.

Source: The Hill

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