President Joe Biden confirmed a 4-year-old American-Israeli girl taken whose parents were murdered on Oct. 7 is among the 17 hostages released by Hamas on Sunday.
“Thank God she’s home,” Biden said of Abigail Edan during a press conference in Nantucket, Massachusetts on Sunday. “I just can’t imagine the enjoyment. I just—I wish I were there to hold her.”
The condition of the girl, who is the first American to be released, was not immediately clear, and Biden said he had no other updates on any other American hostages. “We are hopeful, but I don’t have anything firmly to tell you,” he said.
The Israeli Defense Forces said that the hostages—who range in age from 4 to 84—were released by Hamas to the Red Cross on Sunday.
In a Sunday thread on X, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office listed names, including Elma Avraham, 84; Aviva Siegel, 62; Roni Krivoi, 25; and Dafna and Ella Elyakim, ages 15 and 8. Photos of the Elyakim sisters reuniting with their mother and Krivoi being transported in apparent good condition were circulated by Israeli media on Sunday afternoon.
Also released were Hagar Brodutch, 40, and Chen Goldstein Almog, 49, both mothers with three young children each. Brodutch was freed alongside children Ofri, Yuval, and Uriah, 10, 8, and 4; Goldstein Almog with children Agam, Gal, and Tal, 17, 11, and 9.
At least one of the hostages, 84-year-old Avraham, was in critical condition Sunday. The Israeli military said he had been flown by army helicopter to the nearest hospital, Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. The facility told The Times of Israel that Avraham was in “poor physical condition and severe clinical condition.”
Roni Krivoi was the first male hostage with Israeli citizenship to be released. The 25-year-old, kidnapped while working as a sound technician at the music festival attacked by Hamas militants, had his freedom brokered by Russian officials working apart from the other hostage negotiators. Hamas credited his release to “the efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” according to the Associated Press.
In exchange, Israel released another 39 Palestinian detainees. Many were teenage boys, according to CNN, which reported that the group included two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old. At least 23 of the prisoners had been held under administrative detention—in other words, incarceration without trial or charge.
U.S. officials had hoped Abigail would be among those freed in Sunday’s exchange.
“She turned four just two days ago,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on State of the Union on Sunday. “She has been through hell. She had her parents killed right in front of her and has been held hostage for the last several weeks.”
Netanyahu said in a video statement on Sunday evening that he had spoken to Biden “with great emotion” about Abigail. “What a joy it is to see her with us,” he said, according to a translation by his office.
“But, on the other hand, how sad it is that she is returning to a reality in which she has no parents. She has no parents—but she has an entire nation that embraces her and we will take care of all her needs.”
The prime minister also said there was an “outline” in place to potentially extend the ceasefire beyond its allotted four days, which would involve the release of an additional 10 hostages per day. “That would be welcome,” he said.
Sunday’s exchange brought the total number of hostages released to 58. Saturday’s swap was delayed after Hamas accused Israel of not allowing enough aid to reach northern Gaza and not releasing Palestinian prisoners, an accusation Israel denied. An impasse was resolved after negotiations involving Qatar, Egypt, and the U.S.
A number of foreign nationals were also released between Friday and Saturday, including 14 Thai nationals and one person from the Philippines. Medics told CNN that the foreigners were in “stable condition”?following their nearly two months in captivity.