President Biden on Wednesday met in person for the first time with family members of some of the eight Americans believed to still be held hostage by Hamas.
Speaking to the press after the meeting, Jonathan Dekel-Chen, father of hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, 35, said, “It was a terrific, terrific meeting and conversation. I think we all came away feeling that … we could have no better friend in Washington or in the White House than President Biden himself and his administration.”
A total of four American hostages have been released since Oct. 7, including 4-year-old Abigail Edan, who witnessed the killing of both of her parents by Hamas militants. Her great-aunt, Liz Hirsh Naftali, told reporters Abigail is a light during this dark time. “We are all one big family looking to get all of these people’s sons and fathers and mothers out,” she said, gesturing to the other family members gathered together. “We would love a Christmas miracle.”
Here’s what we know about the eight Americans still being held hostage in Gaza.
Edan Alexander, 19
Edan Alexander graduated from Tenafly High School in Bergen County, N.J., in 2022 before he went to Israel to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in early October that Alexander was on duty near the Gaza Strip when the attacks happened and hasn’t been seen since.
Itay Chen, 19
Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Itay Chen grew up in New York City and was a member of the IDF. Chen’s family last heard from him early that morning when he told them that his base, stationed near Gaza, was under attack. Two hours later, they lost contact.
Sagui Dekel-Chen, 35
Israeli-American Sagui Dekel-Chen hasn’t been heard from since he was captured by Hamas at Kibbutz Nir Oz, where he resided. His parents said he was last seen defending his pregnant wife and their two young daughters so they could escape during the massacre.
Dekel-Chen’s stepmother, Gillian Kaye, told WFLA last Friday, “He’s got a little girl on the way in two weeks. ... He needs to see that little girl and the other ones who are waiting for him.”
Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23
Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Hersh Goldberg-Polin was born in Berkeley, Calif., and moved to Israel with his family when he was 7. He was last seen being abducted from the Supernova music festival near the Gaza border, where at least 260 other people were killed.
Goldberg-Polin lost part of his arm to shrapnel from a grenade when Hamas attacked a temporary shelter where people were seeking refuge, according to witnesses.
Husband and wife: Gad Haggai, 73, and Judith Weinstein, 70
The family of Gad Haggai and Judith Weinstein last heard from them when Weinstein sent a short video of an alert system going off near their Kibbutz Nir Oz home.
One of their four children, Iris Weinstein Haggai, said the family heard from a paramedic that Judith had called for medical help.
“[The paramedic] said they were shot by terrorists on a motorcycle and that my dad was wounded really bad,” their daughter told the AP. “Paramedics tried to send her an ambulance. The ambulance got hit by a rocket.” After that, the paramedic lost contact with Weinstein.
Omer Neutra, 22
Dual U.S.-Israeli national, a native of Long Island, N.Y., was serving as a tank commander and officer near Gaza when Hamas attacked.
His mother told AFP that he wanted to go to Israel to experience the country of his parents, and that he was also affected by his grandparents being Holocaust survivors. Neutra traveled to Israel after he finished high school and ended up enlisting for military service, as most young Israelis do. It’s believed he was taken hostage by Hamas.
Keith Siegel, 64
A native of North Carolina, Keith Siegel moved to Israel years ago. He and his wife, Aviva, were captured by Hamas from their Kibbutz Kfar Aza home. Aviva was released during the most recent Israel-Hamas truce. The couple have four adult children and five grandchildren.