Biden meets with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas at White House.

Biden meets with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas at White House.

2014 Gaza conflict

President Biden greeted 13 relatives of US citizens who were captured by Hamas in the 2014 Gaza war in Washington.Oct. 7 terrorist attack

On Wednesday, the individual visited the White House in Israel and had his initial in-person encounter with them.

Attendees and speakers at the meeting chose not to disclose specifics, but acknowledged the efforts of the president and his team in obtaining the freedom of their family members.

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, a parent of Sagui Dekel-Chen who is 35 years old and holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States, expressed that there is no one in Washington who is a better ally than Mr. Biden for their families.

The president and his team recognize that Abigail More Edan’s loved ones are more than mere “hostages.” Abigail herself was held captive after her parents were killed in the Oct. 7 attacks.

Naftali stated that the individuals in question are both sons and grandparents, as well as mothers. He also acknowledged that the president and his team have a grasp of this concept.

Liz Naftali, great aunt of Abigail More Edan, third from left, speaks to reporters after a meeting with President Biden at the White House on Dec. 13, 2023, in Washington.

On December 13, 2023, in Washington D.C., Liz Naftali, who is standing third from the left, and is the great aunt of Abigail More Edan, gave a statement to the press following her meeting with President Biden at the White House.

Evan Vucci / AP

Naftali stated that the president and his team are tirelessly working around the clock, including during holidays, to ensure the safe return of all American citizens.

The meeting came weeks after the president held a video conference call with the families

During the month of October, other high-ranking officials of the Biden administration, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Doug Emhoff (the second gentleman), and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, have personally met with families.

Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State, and Jon Finer, the principal deputy national security adviser, joined the president for a meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Family members who were present included:

  • Yael and Adi Alexander
  • Ruby and Roy Chen
  • Ronen and Orna Neutra
  • Jonathan Dekel-Chen
  • Gillian Kaye
  • Aviva, Elan, Shir and Hanna Siegel
  • Liz Naftali

According to the White House, three additional family members, namely Jon Polin, Rachel Goldberg, and Iris Haggai, participated in the conversation via phone.

On October 7, during a violent attack by Hamas in southern Israel, they were accused by Israel of capturing over 240 individuals. This attack resulted in the death of over 1,200 Israelis. The United States has labeled Hamas as a terrorist group.

Over 100 individuals being held captive, two of whom are American citizens, a 4-year-old named Edan and a 49-year-old.Liat Beinin

“During the war, a large number of prisoners of war were released.”weeklong November cease-fire
During the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the governing body of the Gaza Strip, approximately 240 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons. Additionally, two American citizens who hold both U.S. and Israeli citizenship were also involved.

The release date was in the latter part of October.
Following their capture by Hamas.

It is estimated that around 137 people are currently being held as hostages in Gaza. According to the White House, there are less than 10 Americans whose whereabouts are still unknown. The attacks on October 7th resulted in the death of at least 31 American citizens.

Some other households feel neglected.

American families whose loved ones have been detained in other countries for an extended period of time gathered outside the White House on Tuesday, wondering why the families of Americans held captive by Hamas were given the opportunity to meet with President Biden while their own pleas have gone unanswered.

“We appreciate that the president is having a meeting with the families of the Gaza hostages. However, when either he or his staff tells us that we are the top priority, their actions do not reflect that,” said Harrison Li in an interview with CBS News. His father, Kai Li, has been in custody in China since 2012.

Li expressed that it was emotionally jarring. She questioned the message being conveyed if he chooses to meet with only certain individuals and not others.


The Bring Our Families Home Campaign, comprised of relatives of individuals unjustly imprisoned and taken captive globally, gathered outside the White House on Dec. 12, 2023.

CBS News

Li is a member of a coalition of relatives of American citizens who have been unjustly imprisoned and held captive in various parts of the world, known as the Bring Our Families Home Campaign. They organized a display of picnic blankets adorned with dishes and pictures of their loved ones outside the gates of the White House, symbolizing the absence of their family members at their holiday gatherings.

Aida Dagher, the sister-in-law of Zack Shahin, currently incarcerated in Dubai, expressed that the president’s lack of recognition makes them feel insignificant.

“We are not treated as equals. The meeting tomorrow is only for those considered first-class citizens,” she explained to CBS News. “We are pleased that some families will have the opportunity to meet, but we can’t help but question why we have been overlooked despite our pleas.”

During the month of May, the households

I made a similar request.

Mr. Biden is expected to meet with them outside the White House.

Li expressed his puzzlement over the fact that Mr. Biden has not met with them and mentioned that he has not received any explanation for this.

Li expressed that a meeting would demonstrate that the president is concerned and aware of their struggles. The pain they are experiencing is devastating and they simply need the opportunity for the president to listen.

This report was contributed by Sara Cook.