President Biden on Sunday hailed the release of Avigail Idan, a 4-year-old American citizen who has been held hostage by Hamas for seven weeks, and vowed to keep working to secure freedom for others in captivity and extend the pause in the fighting.
“Thank God she’s home,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Nantucket, Mass., where he has been marking the Thanksgiving holiday. “I wish I was there to hold her.”
Avigail, whose name has been rendered as Abigail in American media, is a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen and was seized during the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7 after her parents were killed. Her case has been the focus of widespread international attention and concern as she marked her fourth birthday on Friday. She was among a total of 17 people held captive who were turned over on Sunday, and Mr. Biden said she was “safely in Israel.”
The president said the temporary truce was not only resulting in the release of hostages but the provision of more aid to civilians in Gaza, with 200 trucks of food, water, medicine, fuel and cooking gas arriving each day. He said he hoped to extend the original deal to release 50 hostages in exchange for Palestinians jailed by Israel and a four-day pause in Israel’s military operation, so that more captives can be freed and the hold on fighting can continue.
“More is needed but this deal is delivering lifesaving results,” Mr. Biden said. “Critical aid is going in and hostages are coming out. This deal is structured so that it can be extended to keep building on these results. That’s my goal, 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 to those in need in Gaza.”