A 4-year-old American girl with ties to Arizona was taken hostage by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel. After celebrating her 4th birthday in captivity two days prior, Avigail Edan was released Sunday.
Seventeen hostages, including Avigail, were freed by militants in the third round of hostage releases since an uneasy Hamas-Israeli cease-fire began last week. The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum confirmed she was among those freed.
"Based on information that was received from the Red Cross, 14 Israeli hostages and three foreign national hostages have been transferred to the Red Cross," the Israeli military said in a social media post.
Avigail turned 4 on Friday when the first group of captives was released as Israel began a four-day pause on fighting in the Gaza Strip.
In fact, no Americans were among the 24 hostages released Friday in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners.
During a news conference on Friday afternoon, President Joe Biden said he didn't know when the first Americans would be released. Emphasizing that Friday’s release was the start of the process, Biden said he won’t quit trying to free those being held, including “two American women and one four-year-old child, Avigail, who remains among those missing.”
Seventeen militant-held hostages were released late Saturday, 13 of them Israelis along with four Thai citizens. One of those freed was Emily Hand, whose parents initially were told she had been killed.
Avigail was being held hostage in Gaza after being abducted on Oct. 7 during an attack on the Kfar Aza kibbutz where dozens, including her parents, were killed by Hamas. Scottsdale resident Sophie Plapp has called for the release of Avigail, her cousin's granddaughter.
"I don't have enough words for what the feeling is other than that her grandmother and I are second-generation Holocaust survivors, so all the stories our grandparents told us about the Nazis come back," Plapp said at a Nov. 3 event at the Arizona Capitol honoring the more than 200 people taken hostage by Hamas.
Earlier this month, Avigail's great-aunt Liz Hirsh Naftali told NBC News that the girl's parents were killed by Hamas and that the child was in her father's arms when a gunman shot him.
Avigail's two older brothers hid in a closet and survived, according to the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum. She managed to escape from the home and was found by Avihai Brodutch who took her to his house where she was kidnapped, along with his family.
Upon news that the government of Qatar was negotiating the release of hostages, including Avigail, Hirsh Naftali told CNN that she hoped the girl would be reunited with her brother and sister by her birthday on Friday.
Israel's prison service said it had begun releasing another 39 Palestinians, all facing or convicted of terror-related charges and all either female or 18 and under. Another swap of militant-held hostages for Israeli-held prisoners was set for Monday.
More than 1,200 people were in Israel during Hamas' assault. The group also took 240 hostages, nine of whom were reportedly Americans. At least two hostages have been known to have died. There have been four hostages released and one freed by Israeli troops.
More than 12,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
On Nov. 12, President Joe Biden spoke with Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar about hostages in Gaza, according to the White House.
"He condemned unequivocally the holding of hostages by Hamas, including many young children, one of whom is a 3-year old American citizen toddler, whose parents were killed by Hamas on October 7th," read a statement from the White House.
USA Today reporter Maureen Groppe contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 4-year-old hostage Avigail Edan released by Hamas