'What she endured was unthinkable': Biden reacts to release of first American hostage - as 17 more released by Hamas

26 November 2023, 15:59 | Updated: 26 November 2023, 23:42

Avigail Idan has been released by Hamas
Avigail Idan has been released by Hamas. Picture: Handout/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Joe Biden has confirmed that an Israeli-American hostage has been released by Hamas after spending seven weeks in captivity.

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Avigail Idan was released by Hamas this afternoon as part of a truce agreed between Hamas and Israel.

Overall, 14 more Israeli hostages and three foreign nationals have been released by Hamas - the third group to be released in as many days.

It follows "intensive diplomacy", the US President said.

Avigail Idan
Avigail Idan. Picture: Handout

"We continue to press and expect that additional Americans will be released as well," he said.

"We will not stop working until every hostage is returned to their loved ones."

Read More: 'Emily has come back to us': Heart-warming moment Irish-Israeli girl, 9, reunites with father after Hamas release

Read More: Ireland's PM Leo Varadkar under fire for comments on release of Irish-Israeli girl held captive by Hamas

Speaking at a press conference after the third group of hostages was released, Mr Biden said Avigail "spent her birthday... and at least 50 days before that held hostage by Hamas".

"Today she's free, and Jilly and I, together with so many Americans, are praying for the fact that she is going to be alright," he said.

He added that Avigail has been through a "terrible trauma" and that "what she endured is unthinkable".

Three Thai hostages have also been released.

Maayan Zin reunites with her daughters Dafna and Ela
Maayan Zin reunites with her daughters Dafna and Ela. Picture: Handout

Speaking after the release of more Israeli hostages, Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We brought back another group of hostages this evening - women and children - and we are moved from the depths of our hearts, the entire nation, when we see this reuniting of families."

Elma Avraham, an 84-year-old woman who was released by Hamas, is being treated in hospital after being neglected.

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