US aware of reports that Israel detained two Americans in Gaza, State Dept says

A group of Palestinians detained by the IDF in northern Gaza on January 8, 2024. (Screen capture/12)
A group of Palestinians detained by the IDF in northern Gaza on January 8, 2024. (Screen capture/12)

The United States is aware of reports that two Americans in Gaza were detained by Israeli forces in a raid early on Thursday and is seeking more information, the State Department says.

The department does not identify the two US citizens, citing privacy concerns.

But the family of US-Palestinian dual nationals Hashem Alagha, 20, and Borak Alagha, 18, say the two brothers were detained in a raid on a home west of the city of Khan Younis on Thursday morning.

Four other relatives were detained, including the brothers’ Canadian father and an uncle who is mentally disabled, according to the brothers’ cousin, Yasmeen Elagha, who lives near Chicago.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the State Department says it was “aware of reports of [the] detention of two U.S. citizens in Gaza and [was] seeking additional information.”

The Israeli military has no immediate comment.

Israel has arrested or detained hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza since October 7, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club advocacy group.

The two brothers, born in the Chicago area, have not yet been cleared to leave Gaza, Elagha said. Americans listed by the US as wanting to leave Gaza at the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing must be approved by both Israel and Egypt.

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