Monday, November 27th 2023, 7:58 am
Abigail Mor Edan, the youngest American held hostage by Hamas, was among the hostages released by Hamas on Sunday, President Biden confirmed on Sunday.
"She's free and she's in Israel now," President Biden said Sunday, adding that she's "been through a terrible trauma."
Mr. Biden said Abigail's mother was killed in front of her. The young girl ran to her father, who was gunned down while using his body to shield her, before running to neighbors for help, Mr. Biden said.
"What she endured is unthinkable," he said.
In a statement, the young girl's family said "there are no words to express our relief and gratitude that Abigail is safe and coming home."
Seventeen hostages were released — 14 Israeli citizens, which includes Abigail, who is a joint Israeli-American citizen, and three foreign nationals, Israeli officials said.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry said 39 Palestinians will also be released as part of this hostage swap.
Three female American hostages — including Abigail — were expected to be released in the four-day-long truce. It is not clear whether it will be extended.
"The agreement has a provision that if Hamas are — will be able to prove, to locate, and secure some of the hostages that are within the criteria of the first group, which is women and children, then it will be extended depending on the number that they will have. This is something we cannot confirm yet until we get to the fourth day, then Hamas should present the list if they are available with them," Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in an exclusive interview with "Face the Nation."
Israel has publicly said it is willing to extend the fighting pause one day for each 10 hostages released. When asked whether Hamas had been able to locate any further hostages in Gaza during the pause in fighting, Al Thani said there is no such communication yet. During this phase one portion of the deal, Israel agreed to release three Palestinian prisoners for each hostage — which means kids for kids, women for women.
After all the children and female civilians are released, the second phase of a potential hostage release would include female soldiers, elderly hostages, and eventually the men, according to Al Thani. The negotiations around men are complicated given that as military reservists they would be handled as if active-duty soldiers. Some details still need to be ironed out.
There are a total of 10 unaccounted for Americans, including one legal resident. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he has "confidence that all of the individuals being held hostage will come home."
On Sunday, Hamas also released a woman named Aviva or Adrienne Siegel who is the spouse of U.S. citizen Keith Siegel. While she is not a U.S. citizen, the Biden team has advocated for her and continues to do so for her spouse who remains in captivity.
Sullivan said the White House remains in close contact with authorities in Qatar and Egypt, who have helped broker the hostage release deal, as well as Israeli officials.
Since Friday, Hamas has released three groups of hostages who have been held captive in Gaza since the terror attack. As part of the U.S.-Qatari brokered deal, Israel and Hamas agreed to a short-term cease-fire and Israel is also releasing dozens of Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas released 13 Israelis and four Thai nationals on Saturday, and 13 Israeli hostages, 10 Thai hostages and one Filipino hostage were released Friday, according to officials.
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