Israel-Hamas war: Relatives of 4-year-old US hostage relieved after her release

Abigail Edan was among the children released on Sunday by Hamas militants.

Abigail Edan, the youngest American held in captivity by Hamas militants, was among the 17 hostages freed on Sunday, bringing relief after 50 days of anguish to her surviving family members.

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Abigail, 4, who has American-Israeli dual citizenship, turned 4 on Friday. Her name has also been spelled as “Avigail Idan” by The New York Times and other media outlets.

Abigail’s release marked the first time an American hostage had been released during the four-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, CNN reported.

“Today she’s free,” President Joe Biden said on Sunday in Nantucket, Massachusetts, according to The Washington Post. “She’s free and she’s in Israel now.

“Thank God she’s home. I wish I was there to hold her.”

“We are blessed to give her lots of love and care and to help her build her life again,” Tal Idan, the child’s aunt, wrote in a text message to the Times. “Feels like a miracle that came true.”

Liz Hirsh Naftali, the child’s great-aunt, and her cousin, Noa Naftali, released a statement after Abigail’s release, the Times reported. The pair said that they “hoped and prayed today would come.”

“There are no words to express our relief and gratitude,” they said, while also thanking Biden and the Qatari government, which helped broker the cease-fire deal.

Abigail is receiving treatment at a hospital near Tel Aviv, a spokesperson from the Hostage and Missing Families’ Forum told CNN.

The White House said that Biden spoke by telephone with members of the girl’s family in the United States and Israel, according to The Associated Press. Several of her relatives are based in California, the Times reported.

The child was taken captive by Hamas on Oct. 7 when she was hiding at the home of her neighbors, the Brodutch family, in the Kfar Aza kibbutz, the Times of Israel reported.

Abigail’s parents, Roy Idan, 43, and Smadar Idan, 38, were fatally shot in the Oct. 7 attack, the Times reported. Family members said that Roy Idan, Ynet photographer, was holding his daughter when he was killed. The girl’s siblings, Michael, 9, and Amelia, 6, watched as their father was shot.

Militants also killed Smadar Idan in front of the children, according to the newspaper.

Covered in her father’s blood, Abigail ran toward the Brodutch family, her aunt, Tal Idan, told the Times.

Michael and Amalya hid for 14 hours in a closet in their home, speaking with a Magen David Adom dispatcher who told Michael to lock the door and not let anyone in the residence “until good people came,” The Times of Israel reported.

Tal Idan and her husband, Amit Idan, have been taking care of Abigail’s siblings, who survived the attack, according to the Times.

The Brodutch family was also in Sunday’s group of released hostages, according to the AP.

They include Hagar, 40; Ofry, 10; Yuval, 8; and Oria, 4.

“They’ve endured a terrible ordeal,” Biden said, adding that the freed hostages can begin the “long journey toward healing.”

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