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Hamas releases four-year-old US hostage, Biden confirms
Massachusetts: President Joe Biden said a four-year-old US hostage held by Hamas was released from captivity in Gaza and returned to Israel on Sunday, adding he was working to release other U.S. hostages.
Biden said the hostage, Avigail Edan, witnessed Hamas fighters killing her parents during an Oct. 7 raid into Israel and had been held as a hostage since then. He said she turned 4 years old while in captivity.
“What she endured is unthinkable,” Biden told a news conference.
Edan was released as part of a deal to swap 50 hostages held by the Palestinian militant group for 150 prisoners in Israeli jails over a four-day truce period.
Hamas released 17 hostages on Sunday, and Israel was expected to free 39 Palestinian prisoners in return.
It is the first halt in the conflict since Hamas fighters rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials. Hamas characterizes its armed activities as resistance against Israeli occupation.
In response, Israel vowed to destroy the Hamas militants who run Israeli-occupied Gaza, bombarding the enclave and mounting a ground offensive in the north. Palestinian health authorities say Israel has killed some 14,800 people, roughly 40% of them children.
Biden said he would speak later in the day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden said he expects other Hamas will release other U.S. hostages as well. He said he would like the pause in the fighting to be extended as long as prisoners are being released.
“We will not stop working until every hostage is returned to their loved ones,” Biden said.