Biden issues statement on American-Israeli killed by Hamas, U.S. citizen wife still held captive in Gaza

 December 23, 2023

Gaza-based terror group Hamas continues to hold dozens of hostages taken captive from southern Israel during its brutal wave of surprise attacks on Oct. 7, including some American citizens.

President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the news that American-Israeli Gadi Haggai was confirmed dead in Gaza while his wife, U.S. citizen Judith Weinstein, was still being held captive by Hamas, according to the Washington Examiner.

Reports indicate that Haggai was mortally wounded on Oct. 7 and died that same day while Weinstein, who is still being held hostage, sustained injuries of her own at some unspecified point.

Biden responds to grim news

In a White House statement on Friday, President Biden said, "Jill and I are heartbroken by the news that American Gad Haggai is now believed to have been killed by Hamas on October 7. We continue to pray for the well-being and safe return of his wife, Judy."

"Their daughter joined by phone my meeting with the families of hostages last week," he continued. "Those families bravely shared with me the harrowing ordeal that they have endured over the past months as they await news of their loved ones. It’s intolerable."

"Today, we are praying for their four children, seven grandchildren, and other loved ones and are grieving this tragic news with them. And I reaffirm the pledge we have made to all the families of those still held hostage: we will not stop working to bring them home," the president added.

Wounded and taken captive on Oct. 7

According to The Times of Israel, Haggai, 73, and Weinstein, 70, had been out on a morning walk near their home in the Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel when they suddenly heard gunfire and alarms and saw rockets and missiles flying overhead on Oct. 7.

A brief video of that moment posted to a community group chat by Weinstein was their last known contact with anyone, and that video was used by their daughter Iris, 38, who lives in Singapore, to determine their last known location, though the couple were not found in a later search of the area by the Israel Defense Force.

The daughter's continued search for her missing parents led to a tip from an Israeli paramedic who informed her that other paramedics had attempted to respond to a request for medical assistance by Weinstein but were unsuccessful when their ambulance was also attacked by Hamas terrorists.

"She said they were shot by terrorists on a motorcycle and that my dad was wounded really bad," the daughter said of what she had learned. "Paramedics tried to send her an ambulance. The ambulance got hit by a rocket."

Family and community confirm death

The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that Kibbutz Nir Oz had announced that Haggai had been formally declared dead, that his body was still being held by Hamas in Gaza, and that Weinstein was wounded and remained held hostage by the terror group.

The kibbutz described Haggai as "a sharp person, a gifted musician from the age of three, a chef, and a follower of a healthy vegan diet."

The family also released a statement and said that Haggai "will be remembered as a gifted man, with sharp intellect and a love for wind instruments -- which he played since he was a young child. He was a talented chef, and alongside his wife, Judi, he lived a healthy, active lifestyle."

"We mourn the loss of our father and grandfather, and we continue to hope and pray that his body will be returned to us and that Judi is still alive and we will be reunited soon," the family added.

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