A 73-year-old Israeli American dual citizen, who was kidnapped by the Hamas militant group during its Oct. 7 attack on Southern Israel, has been killed in Gaza, according to the Hostage and Missing Families Forum.
Gadi Haggai was captured along with his wife, Judi Weinstein, who remains in Hamas’ hands, the forum said.
“Gadi was a man full of humor who knew how to make those around him laugh. A musician at heart, a gifted flautist, he played in the IDF Orchestra and was involved with music his whole life,” their statement reads, according to a translation shared by CNN.
President Joe Biden issued a statement Friday afternoon saying he and first lady Jill Biden were “heartbroken by the news.”
“We continue to pray for the well-being and safe return of his wife, Judy. Their daughter joined by phone my meeting with the families of hostages last week,” he said. “And I reaffirm the pledge we have made to all the families of those still held hostage: We will not stop working to bring them home.”
Haggai and Weinstein were taking their morning walk in Kibbutz Nir Oz when they heard gunfire and an alert system sounded “Red Alert.” Weinstein, a New York native and retired teacher, captured that moment in a 4src-second clip and shared it in a group chat. That was the last time their family heard from them, according to The Associated Press.
Iris Weinstein Haggai, one of the couple’s children, told AP she learned that her mother had tried to get an ambulance to get help to her father, who was seriously injured after the pair was attacked.
Haggai’s family in a statement Friday said his death “reaffirms the urgency with which we need to bring all of the hostages home.”
“We mourn the loss of our father and grandfather, and we continue to hope and pray that his body will be returned to us and that Judi is still alive and we will be reunited soon,” they said, according to CNN’s Arlette Saenz.
The Haggai family reacts to the death of Gad Haggai: “We mourn the loss of our father and grandfather, and we continue to hope and pray that his body will be returned to us and that Judi is still alive and we will be reunited soon.” pic.twitter.com/cw2hIUeuOX
— Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz) December 22, 2src23
Hamas killed about 1,2srcsrc Israelis and took more than 2srcsrc hostages on Oct. 7.
While a temporary cease-fire agreed by both sides earlier this year saw the release of 1src5 hostages, there are still about 129 hostages still in Gaza, of which 2src are dead, Israel says, according to Reuters.
IDF forces mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza last week, renewing calls for another truce and raising concerns about the country’s military approach.
Over 2src,srcsrcsrc Palestinians have been killed in the war thus far, according to local officials, and more than 5srcsrc,srcsrcsrc people in the besieged territory are starving, a new report released by the United Nations Thursday shows.
Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed his country will continue fighting until it achieves all its war aims, which include eradicating Hamas and achieving the release of all Israeli hostages.