After 4-Year-Old American Girl Is Freed by Hamas, Her Family Breathes Sigh of Relief

Photo of author

By Ketrin Agustine

After 4-Year-Old American Girl Is Freed by Hamas, Her Family Breathes Sigh of Relief

On Oct. 7, she witnessed her parents’ murder, before being abducted. On Friday, nearly seven weeks later, she spent her fourth birthday while under captivity. And on Sunday, she was finally freed, as one of the hostages Hamas released under a deal with Israel.

Her name is Avigail Idan. Avigail, whose name has also been spelled “Abigail” in U.S. media reports, is a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, and was among the roughly 240 people, including around 10 American citizens, taken as hostages by Hamas on Oct. 7.

In a statement after Avigail’s release, Liz Hirsh Naftali and Noa Naftali, her great-aunt and cousin, said they had “hoped and prayed today would come.”

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

Avigail’s case has received wide attention, particularly in the United States, where several of her relatives are based in California. President Biden expressed relief over the news of her release on Sunday.

“Thank God she’s home,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Nantucket, Mass., on Sunday. “I wish I was there to hold her.”

Avigail’s parents, Roy Idan, 43, and Smadar Idan, 38, were fatally shot at the Kfar Aza kibbutz in the October attack. The family has said that Mr. Idan was holding Avigail in his arms when he was killed, while her siblings, Michael and Amelia, watched the tragedy unfold.

Covered in her father’s blood, Avigail ran toward a neighbor, her aunt, Tal Idan, said. The neighbor brought Avigail into his home to hide with his wife and children and then left the house to find a gun. “Ten minutes later, when he got back, all were gone,” Ms. Idan said. Ms. Idan and her husband, Amit Idan, have been taking care of Avigail’s siblings, who survived the attack.

While several hostages have been reunited with their loved ones in the three days since the cease-fire began, many families are still waiting for news about their relatives who remain in captivity.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, a U.S. citizen, is one of the people still being held by Hamas. Mr. Goldberg-Polin, who was born in Berkeley, Calif., was at a music festival near the Gaza border in southern Israel when Hamas attacked on Oct. 7. Members of his family believe he is in desperate need of medical attention because part of his arm was blown off by a grenade the assailants threw before abducting him.

On Sunday, his father, Jon Polin, was anxiously awaiting news regarding his son. But he said he was “thrilled” for every hostage who has been released so far and for their families.

“We hostage families have found ourselves kind of becoming another form of a family,” he said. “So it really is personal, even though I don’t know the hostages themselves, other than my son.”

“I’m really happy that they’re being reunited with their loved ones,” Mr. Polin added. “That being said, I want my son home and I want all of the hostages home.”

Katherine Rosman contributed reporting.

SOURCE

Leave a Comment