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Biden 'Heartbroken' Over American Killed by Hamas

Friday, 22 December 2023 10:20 PM EST

President Joe Biden said Friday he was "heartbroken" by the news that an American named Gadi Haggai is believed to have been killed by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7 when it attacked Israel.

Haggai, a 73-year-old Israeli-American man, was previously thought to have been taken hostage in the attack, along with his wife. A group representing hostages' families had said earlier on Friday that Haggai died in captivity.

"Jill (Biden) and I are heartbroken by the news that American Gadi 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," the president said in a statement released by the White House.

Judith Weinstein, the wife of Haggai, is still being held hostage in Gaza, according to Israeli media outlet Haaretz.

The Biden statement gave no further details about what happened to Haggai.

Hamas attacked kibbutzim, border towns and a music festival in Israel on Oct. 7 in a rampage that left 1,200 dead, with 240 people taken to Gaza as hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's retaliatory assault on Gaza has killed over 20,000, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, with many more missing and presumed buried under rubble.

Drawing on various information sources, an Israeli government-appointed committee has been declaring some hostages dead in absentia. Hamas has generally not confirmed these accounts, but has warned that "time is running out" for the hostages as the Palestinian militants' war with Israel nears its 12th week.

Haggai "will be remembered as a gifted man, with sharp intellect and a love for wind instruments. ... He was a talented chef, and alongside his wife, Judi, he lived a healthy, active lifestyle," his family said in a statement cited by Haaretz.

"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 statement added.

According to an official Israeli tally, 129 people remain held in Gaza after the rest were repatriated in a November truce or recovered during a military offensive. Of those still in Gaza, 22 are dead, the Israeli government says.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said that between five and 10 of the hostages hold U.S. citizenship.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington Editing by Chris Reese, Rosalba O'Brien and Diane Craft)

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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President Joe Biden said Friday he was "heartbroken" by the news that an American named Gadi Haggai is believed to have been killed by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7 when it attacked Israel. Haggai, a 73-year-old Israeli-American man, was previously thought to ...
biden, american, haggai, killed, hamas
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2023-20-22
Friday, 22 December 2023 10:20 PM
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