American Hostage in Gaza Confirmed Dead; Wife’s Fate Hangs in Balance

GAZA CITY, GAZA – In a tragic turn of events, Gadi Haggai, a 73-year-old Israeli-American, has been confirmed dead while held captive by Hamas in Gaza. This incident marks the first known death of a U.S. citizen under these circumstances. Haggai, along with his wife Judi Weinstein, was abducted near Kibbutz Nir Oz during a Hamas attack on October 7.

The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum revealed that Haggai was killed on the day of the abduction. His body is currently being held in Gaza, while his wife is believed to be still alive. The couple, known for their commitment to peace activism, were caught in a violent assault that has left the international community in shock.

On the day of the attack, Weinstein, who sustained a gunshot wound to her arm and injuries to her face, managed to contact a member of the kibbutz. She informed them of Haggai’s critical condition, having suffered a headshot. Desperate to seek help, Weinstein sent a text message to her daughter in Singapore. Paramedics were dispatched to their location, but their ambulance was hit by a rocket, further complicating the rescue efforts.

Haggai, a retired chef and jazz musician, was a father of four and grandfather of seven. His death has drawn widespread condemnation. Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum, criticized the actions of Hamas and highlighted the couple’s peaceful beliefs. President Joe Biden expressed his sorrow over Haggai’s death and reaffirmed the U.S. government’s commitment to rescuing those still held captive.

“We continue to pray for the well-being and safe return of his wife, Judy,” President Biden stated, reflecting on the emotional meeting he had with the families of hostages, including Haggai’s daughter.

The couple’s niece, Ofri Haggai, shared the last known contact with them, indicating that they were severely wounded and had lost all contact since the initial call for help. The incident has prompted reactions from various political figures, including Senator Rick Scott and Rep. Don Bacon, emphasizing the urgency of bringing hostages home. Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, described the act as a crime against humanity and called for the remembrance of Haggai.

Despite ongoing negotiations for hostage releases, Hamas has declared that no further deals will be made without a total ceasefire and Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza. Haggai, who had deep ties to New York, had moved to Israel with his wife 30 years ago. The Israeli government estimates that 129 people are still in captivity, with 22 confirmed dead, including five to ten U.S. citizens.

This incident underscores the ongoing tensions and complexities in the region, highlighting the dire consequences of conflict and the urgent need for effective diplomatic solutions. The international community continues to watch closely, hoping for a resolution that brings peace and justice to all affected parties.