Families of the Americans being held hostage by Hamas must wait longer to find out if their relatives will be among those released.
President Biden said earlier this week that he expected the cease-fire deal between Hamas and Israel to result in American hostages returning home, but they were not among the 24 people Hamas released in the first round on Friday. The cease-fire deal calls for Hamas to return 50 women and children in phases over four days, while Israel would release 150 imprisoned or detained Palestinian women and teenagers.
At a news conference on Friday, President Biden said he did not know when American hostages would be released, but that officials “expect it to occur.” He added that he did not know the conditions of the 10 Americans who are unaccounted for, and he did not say how many he expected would be freed over the next three scheduled days of releases.
President Biden called the Friday releases “the start of a process.”
The hostages that were initially released by Hamas included 13 Israelis, all women and children, 10 Thai citizens and one Filipino, according to government officials.
In addition to killing about 1,200 people in a surprise attack on Oct. 7, the militants took about 240 hostages back to Gaza. Hamas had previously released four of the hostages, including a mother and a daughter with dual American citizenship, on Oct. 20.
On Friday, President Biden referenced two American women and mentioned one American hostage by name: Avigail Idan, whose family said she turned 4 on Friday. Avigail’s parents were killed in the Hamas attack, and her family had hoped that she would be free by her birthday.
Avigail, whose name has also been spelled “Abigail” in the U.S. media, is a dual Israeli and U.S. citizen.
“I find myself barely breathing through the last 24 hours,” her aunt, Tal Idan, said after the announcement of the agreement. “Every hour that goes by feels like forever.”
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