White House issues photo of Biden meeting freed hostage Avigail Idan: ‘She’s remarkable’

US president says Idan is ‘recovering from unspeakable trauma,’ adds meeting underscored need to free remaining captives held by Hamas

US President Joe Biden holds freed Hamas hostage Avigail Idan at the White House, Washington, DC, April 24, 2024. (White House photo)
US President Joe Biden holds freed Hamas hostage Avigail Idan at the White House, Washington, DC, April 24, 2024. (White House photo)

The White House on Thursday released a photo of US President Joe Biden holding freed Israeli-American hostage Avigail Idan, 4, during their meeting in Washington the previous day.

“She’s remarkable and recovering from unspeakable trauma,” Biden wrote in a social media post on Thursday, referring to Idan. “Our time together yesterday was a reminder of the work we have in front of us to secure the release of all remaining hostages” taken captive in the Hamas-led October 7 terror onslaught against Israel.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday the meeting was “also a reminder that there are still Americans and others being held hostage by Hamas, and we’re working day in and day out to ensure all of them also are able to get safely home to their loved ones.”

“I was just sitting with the president of the United States going through all of the Americans being held hostage and what we can do about them,” he stated at a press conference.

Both of Avigail’s parents were murdered by terrorists who infiltrated Kibbutz Kfar Aza during the October 7 massacre in southern Israel. She was taken captive while hiding in her neighbor’s home.

Avigail, who turned four during her time in captivity, was released weeks later as part of a hostages-for-truce deal brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US, which also included the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Biden spoke to her soon after her release in November. Wednesday’s meeting was one of mixed emotions for the president.

“Avigail and her two siblings had their parents killed on October 7, so they’re still living with the tragedy and the trauma of that. Avigail, of course, is living with the trauma of being held captive for many weeks,” Sullivan said. “But this was a moment of joy as well, because she was able to be returned safely to her family.”

Speaking to reporters on the hostage situation Thursday, a senior administration official said that Biden spent over an hour with Avigail and her family in the White House, letting the 4-year-old girl released in the last hostage deal in November play in the Oval Office and crawl through the door of the Resolute Desk like John F. Kennedy Jr. was seen doing as his father worked above him in an iconic 1963 photo.

As Avigail played, Biden talked with her aunt and uncle who have been raising her since her return. The president also updated the family on the ongoing efforts to release the remaining hostages.

US President Joe Biden holds freed Hamas hostage Avigail Idan while standing with other members of her family, at the White House, Washington, DC, April 24, 2024. (White House photo)

Avigail’s aunt, Liz Hirsh Naftali, told Channel 12 news Thursday that Avigail “was very comfortable; she ate some M&Ms — the official White House M&Ms.”

During their meeting, Biden “asked if he could frame [the children’s] pictures and put them on the wall,” she added.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Biden said the meeting “went really well.”

“Her family sent me a note saying, as she was riding home, she said, You know, I love Joe Biden,” he said.

The US president said that during her visit, Idan swung on a swingset and “was playing around in the Oval Office.”

It is believed that 129 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 12 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 34 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

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