'Her story is a microcosm of the horror Hamas unleashed'

Biden speaks to family of Avigail Idan, Israeli-American toddler freed in hostage deal

President says 4-year-old girl ‘endured the unthinkable’ after seeing parents slain and undergoing weeks of captivity; grandfather fetes Biden: ‘We don’t admire you. We love you’

Avigail Idan, 4, who was released from Hamas captivity in Gaza on November 26, 2023, having been taken hostage on October 7. Both her parents were murdered by the terrorists. (Courtesy)
Avigail Idan, 4, who was released from Hamas captivity in Gaza on November 26, 2023, having been taken hostage on October 7. Both her parents were murdered by the terrorists. (Courtesy)

US President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with relatives of a 4-year-old Israeli-American released from Hamas captivity as part of a Qatar-negotiated hostage deal Sunday night, a senior Biden administration official said.

Avigail Idan was freed along with 13 other Israelis and three Thai nationals Sunday, over 50 days after Hamas terrorists slaughtered her parents as they rampaged through Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7.

Idan saw her mother Smadar killed in front of her and then ran to her father Roee who shielded her with his body as terrorists shot him dead. She then ran to a neighbor’s home, where she was kidnapped along with the others inside.

“The story of Avigail in many ways was a microcosm of the horror Hamas unleashed on October 7,” the administration official said in a statement to reporters.

Biden raised Idan’s plight in nearly every phone call he held with Israeli, Qatari, and Egyptian counterparts, the senior administration official said.

US officials have remained in touch with members of Idan’s family throughout the 51 days of her captivity, the official said.

Idan’s siblings, Michael, 9, and Amalya, 6, were with her when their mother was killed and the two hid in a closet for 14 hours, speaking to a Magen David Adom dispatcher until their rescue.

“We are thrilled that Avigail is now home and back in the loving arms of her extended family. She will receive the care and attention she needs through the Israelis and we are also ready to provide all appropriate support,” the official added.

People walk past an image of 4-year-old Avigail Idan, a hostage held by Hamas who was released on Sunday, projected onto a building in Tel Aviv, Sunday, November 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Speaking to the press after Avigail’s return to Israel, her grandfather Carmel thanked Biden for his support and assistance.

“We love him very much for all the help he is giving us, to Israel. Keep going. Keep going. We don’t admire you. We love you,” he said.

4-year-old Avigail Idan’s grandfather Carmel Idan speaks to the media after Avigail’s release from Hamas captivity, November 26, 2023. (Screenshot)

Biden earlier welcomed the 4-year-old’s return to Israel in a press conference held in Nantucket, Massachusetts, saying that he, his wife, and “so many Americans” are praying that Idan will be all right.

Idan’s release comes as part of a Qatar, Egypt and US-negotiated deal between Israel and Hamas, which stipulates that during a four-day ceasefire, Israel will receive a total of 50 women and children taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian security prisoners held in Israel.

She was released on the third day of the ceasefire, along with 13 other Israelis and three Thai nationals.

President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, November 26, 2023, about hostages freed by Hamas in a third set of releases under a four-day cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

“What she endured is unthinkable,” Biden said, noting that he had personally pressed for her release in a recent call with the emir of Qatar.

Idan, who turned 4 while in Hamas captivity, was among the youngest of the hostages to be taken by Gazan terrorists who ransacked Israeli communities last month, killing some 1,200 people and taking some 240 others hostage, including infants and the elderly.

Biden confirmed that in addition to his successful push for Idan’s release, he is working toward the release of the remaining hostages, including eight US citizens and one US Green Card holder.

Biden told the press that he is “hopeful” that the initial four-day truce will be extended so that more hostages can be released. Israel has agreed to extend the pause by an additional day if at least 10 hostages are released daily.

The truce is also supposed to give Gazans a chance to recover and receive humanitarian aid after weeks of punishing Israeli strikes.

Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Sunday, with the two discussing the need to use the ongoing truce to “surge” humanitarian assistance into the enclave, the White House said.

A convoy of trucks carrying fuel and aid drive in Gaza City’s Zeitoun district on November 25, 2023, on the second day of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

Roughly 200 trucks of humanitarian aid have entered Gaza since the start of the truce on Friday. Israel has agreed to allow in at least 200 trucks of aid on each day of the four-day ceasefire in addition to fuel while also ensuring that aid reaches northern Gaza, which has been the section most ravaged in the fighting.

“Innocent children in Gaza are suffering greatly as well because of this war that Hamas has unleashed,” Biden said in Nantucket.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip has claimed that over 14,500 people have been killed since the start of the war on October 7, including around 6,000 children.

However, the numbers cannot be verified by an independent source and are believed to include Hamas members and civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.

A man and a child walk past portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 onslaught by Hamas, in Tel Aviv on November 21, 2023, during the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group. (Ahmad Gharabli/ AFP)

“This deal is structured so that it can be extended and to keep building on these results, 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,” Biden said.

Hamas announced in a statement on Sunday night that it too is seeking to extend the truce beyond the initial four-day period in order to secure the release of additional Palestinian prisoners.

This appears to be the first time that Hamas has formally expressed its desire to extend the truce past Monday.

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