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Biden meets with families of hostages held by Hamas

President Biden and members of his administration met Wednesday at the White House with families of American hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

After the meeting, the families spoke to reporters, holding photos of their loved ones, and expressed confidence that the administration would work tirelessly to bring their family members home.

“We met today with President Biden and other people from the administration. It was a terrific, terrific meeting and conversation,” said Jonathan Dekel-Chen, whose 35-year-old son was kidnapped from his kibbutz on Oct. 7, at the start of his remarks.

“I think we all came away feeling that, as families of hostages,” he continued, “We felt before and we were only reinforced, in seeing and believing, that we could have no better friend in Washington or in the White House than President Biden himself and his administration.”

When asked by reporters if they learned anything new, Dekel-Chen said they would not discuss details of the conversation, which lasted more than an hour.

“We’re going to keep the private conversations private — what we do know, what we do know,” he said. “And we’ve seen that the U.S. administration, from the previous round of negotiations and hostage releases, the U.S. administration is completely committed to getting the hostages out, the eight Americans who remain there, and the other nearly 130.”

“We have no doubt about that,” Dekel-Chen added. “And today’s meeting with President Biden and Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken only reinforced that and that they are willing and ready to do all that they possibly can, by any number of means, to get the hostages home.”

Liz Naftali, whose 4-year-old grandniece Abigail was released by Hamas in an earlier hostage exchange, also spoke to reporters after the meeting, saying the administration assured the families they will work through the holidays to secure the release of their family members. She said she’d love to see “a Christmas miracle.”

“We are thankful to the president and to his team because we know that they are working 24 hours a day, and they are going to work through the holidays, and they are going to do everything they can to make sure that all of our loved ones, real people, come home to us and to the families across the world and in Israel,” she said.

The meeting was held privately and was not announced ahead of time on the president’s public schedule. The White House subsequently confirmed the meeting and provided a list of participants, including Blinken and principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer.

The meeting marked the second time Biden spoke to the hostages as a group. A few days after the Oct. 7 attack in Israel, the families joined Biden in a video call.

Dekel-Chen said the families have been in touch frequently with the White House and have received regular updates.

“Since a day or two after the massacre on October 7 and the mass hostage taking by Hamas, we all began to be contacted by representatives of the United States government, the embassy in Israel, State Department, Secretary Blinken and within just a few short days, President Biden was on a video call with us,” Dekel-Chen said when asked about the kind of communication they’ve had with the administration.

“And since that time we’ve been in frequent and very transparent contact with administration officials. And we’ve also really benefited, I think, and most importantly, our sons, daughters, fathers, sisters brothers, mothers have also really seen how, in a very divided time, members of Congress, members of the Senate, from wall to wall, have shown solidarity with us,” he added.

Source: The Hill

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