Families of Americans held hostage by Hamas must wait longer to find out if their loved ones will be among those freed.
President Biden said earlier this week that he expected the ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel to result in the American hostages returning home, but they were not among the 24 people liberated by Hamas in the first round on Friday. The ceasefire agreement calls for Hamas to return 50 women and children in stages over four days, while Israel would release 150 Palestinian women and teenagers imprisoned or detained.
At a news conference Friday, President Biden said he did not know when the U.S. hostages would be released, but that officials were “expecting that to happen.” He added that he did not know the status of the 10 missing Americans, and he did not say how many of them he estimated would be released during the next three scheduled release days.
President Biden called Friday’s posts “the beginning of a process.”
The hostages initially released by Hamas included 13 Israelis, all women and children, 10 Thai citizens and one Filipino, according to government officials.
In addition to killing around 1,200 people in a surprise attack on October 7, the militants took around 240 hostages back to Gaza. Hamas had already released four of the hostages, including a mother and daughter with dual American nationality, on October 20.
On Friday, President Biden referenced two American women and mentioned the name of an American hostage: Avigail Idan, whose family said she turned 4 on Friday. Avigail’s parents were killed in the Hamas attack and her family hoped she would be free before her birthday.
Avigail, whose name has also been spelled “Abigail” in American media, has dual Israeli and American citizenship.
“I’m barely breathing in the last 24 hours,” his aunt, Tal Idan, said after the deal was announced. “Every hour that passes seems like an eternity.”