Abigail Edan, a 4-year-old American girl held hostage by Hamas , is among the latest group to be released as part of the cease-fire deal with Israel.
US President Joe Biden has confirmed that 4-year-old American girl Abigail Edan, held hostage by Hamas after her parents were killed, is among a group released as part of the ceasefire deal with Israel.
She is now in Israel, as the first American hostage released under the terms of the ceasefire.
"Thank God she's home." Biden said told reporters. "I wish I were there to hold her."
The White House said later that the president spoke by telephone with members of the girl's family in the United States and Israel, in addition to having a call with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hamas militants stormed her kibbutz, Kfar Azza, on October 7 and killed her parents.
She ran to a neighbour's home for shelter, and the Brodutch family — mother Hagar and her three children — took Abigail in as the rampage raged.
Then all five disappeared and were later confirmed to be captives. They were among the more than 200 people taken to Gaza in the attack that touched off the war.
Abigail had a birthday in captivity.
Before the ceasefire, the first hostages were released on October 17 — Judith and Natalie Raanan, an American woman and her teenage daughter. Their release was regarded as a successful test-case for negotiating the larger deal, according to US officials.
Along with Abigail, the Brodutch family was in the group of 17, ranging in age from 4 to 84, released on Sunday.
The group included 13 Israelis, three Thais, and one with Russian citizenship.
Red Cross representatives transferred the hostages out of Gaza. Some were handed over directly to Israel, while others left through Egypt. Israel's army said one was airlifted directly to a hospital.
"They've endured a terrible ordeal," Biden said, and can now begin the "long journey toward healing."
Biden described the negotiations as a day-by-day, hour-by-hour process and said he would continue working until all hostages were free.
"Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is being taken for granted. But the proof that this is working and worth pursuing further is in every smile and every grateful tear we see on the faces of those families who are finally getting back together again.
The proof is little Abigail," the president said.
Biden said in remarks from Nantucket, the Massachusetts islands where he spent Thanksgiving with his family, that the ceasefire agreement was "delivering lifesaving results."
Israel was to free 39 Palestinian prisoners later Sunday as part of the deal.
A fourth exchange was expected on Monday — the last day of the ceasefire during which a total of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners were to be freed.
All are women and minors.
International mediators led by representatives from the United States and Qatar are trying to extend the ceasefire. Biden, who has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu many times since the fighting began, planned to do so again later Sunday.
"Critically needed aid is going in and hostages are coming out," Biden said. "And this deal is structured so that it can be extended to keep building on these results.
That's my goal, that's our goal to keep this pause going beyond tomorrow so that we can continue to see more hostages come out and surge more humanitarian relief into those who are in need in Gaza."