Third Round of Hostage-Prisoner Swap Includes 4-Year-Old American

Abigail Idan, the youngest of the 10 Americans taken hostage, turned four last week.

Gili Yaari/Zuma

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The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced the release of 13 Israeli citizens and four Thai citizens, the latest group of hostages to be freed in the four-day agreement between Israel and Hamas to pause fighting. The freed hostages include Abigail Idan, a dual American and Israeli citizen, who turned four last week while in captivity.

Abigail is the first American to be released after Hamas kidnapped about 240 people and killed more than 1,200 people in Israel on October 7. 

“Today [Abigail] is free, and Jill and I, together with so many Americans, are praying for the fact that she is going to be alright,” President Joe Biden said in a speech shortly after Sunday’s release. “Critically needed aid is going in and hostages are coming out,” Biden added, indicating that he hoped to see the pause in fighting continue.

Earlier in the day, in several appearances he made on the Sunday morning news circuit, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US had “reason to believe” that at least one American would be included on Sunday’s list.

“This first set of hostages, 50 hostages over four days, is women and children,” Sullivan told ABC’s Jon Karl on This Week. “There are three Americans in that category: two women and one child. We have reason to believe that one of those Americans will be released today. But until we actually see her safe and sound out of Gaza, we cannot have 100 percent certainty that it will happen.”

“Hopefully, we will have a moment of joy when one of the Americans is safely out and ultimately reunited with her family.”

In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that aired last week, a family member revealed that a Hamas gunman shot Abigail’s father, adding that the child then “crawled out from under her father’s body…full of his blood.”

The temporary cease-fire, which is slated to end on Monday, has brought rare scenes of relief for families who have waited in anguish amid fragile negotiations conducted by American, Qatari, and Egyptian officials to exchange hostages for Palestinian prisoners. The brief pause has also allowed for the flow of desperately needed aid, food, and medicine to Gazans who have faced relentless bombing by the Israeli government. 

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