Gadi Hajji, a Hamas hostage with ties to New York, is the first American to die in captivity


Israel war 2023

An elderly Israeli-American with deep ties to New York has become the first American citizen confirmed to have been killed while being held hostage by Hamas, it was announced Friday.

Gadi Hajji, 73, was killed by the terrorist group that is believed to still be holding his 70-year-old wife, Jude Weinstein, according to the Forum for Families of Hostages and Missing Persons, which represents the families.

“Gadi was a man full of humor and knew how to make those around him laugh,” the family group said He told The Times of Israel.

“He was a musician at heart, a talented flutist, played in the IDF Orchestra and was involved in music all his life.”

Haggai, whose mother was born and raised in Manhattan and whose father is from Detroit, and Weinstein, a native of Goshen in upstate New York, moved to Israel 30 years ago, seeking solace in the Jewish state — until Hamas' surprise terrorist attack on October 7 shattered their existence. The peaceful.

The couple was walking as usual outside Kibbutz Nir Oz when Hamas gunmen riding motorcycles ambushed them that morning, their relatives said.

Kibbutz Nir Oz said on Friday that the Israel Defense Forces informed Haggai's family of his death.

His body is still in the hands of their kidnappers in the Palestinian territories. Weinstein's fate remains unknown.

The couple's relatives had launched a frantic search for their relatives after the October 7 attack. Hajji family

On the day they were attacked, Weinstein was able to call a kibbutz member for help, saying that she had been shot in the arm and shot in the face and that Haggai had been shot in the head. According to Haaretz newspaper.

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Shortly before the couple were taken hostage, Weinstein was also able to send a text message to her daughter in Singapore. A paramedic later told the couple's children that she had sought medical help – but they had lost contact with her.

“She said they were shot by terrorists on a motorcycle and that my father was very seriously injured,” Iris Weinstein Hajji He told The Times of Israel.

Judea Weinstein Haggai and her husband, Gadi Haggai, were walking in the morning near Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7 when they were ambushed by extremist Hamas terrorists during the attack on Israel. AP

“The paramedics tried to send an ambulance to her. The ambulance was hit by a missile.”

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The family has not heard from the elderly couple since.

“We know they were badly injured. We know that [Weinstein] She still has the phone with her so she can call, ask for help and provide details. But since then, we have lost all contact with them,” the couple’s niece, Ofri Haggai, 47, told The Washington Post last month.

She added that the Israeli military found the phone hours later — raising hope that the couple may have been among more than 220 Israelis taken hostage during the brutal attack, rather than among those killed.

Jodi, 70, is believed to still be detained. AP

The quest to find out what happened to her relatives brought Ofri Haggai, a global human resources manager in Israel, to her aunt's hometown of Orange County, New York, to seek help from local politicians.

It remains unclear how officials were able to determine that Gadi Hajji died in captivity, as Hamas officials have not commented on reports of death.

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He left behind four children and seven grandchildren.

President Biden said he and First Lady Jill Biden were “deeply saddened” by the news of Hajji's death in a statement issued on Friday.

“We continue to pray for the safety and safe return of his wife, Jodi,” Biden said, noting that the couple’s daughter was part of a phone call he made to the families of the hostages just last week.

“Today we pray for their four children, seven grandchildren and other loved ones and mourn with them this tragic news.”

He went on to reiterate his pledge to the remaining hostages and their families that the administration “will not stop working to return them to their homeland.”

According to official Israeli statistics, 129 people are still detained in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government says that among these were 22 dead.

The forum said that between five and ten of the hostages held American citizenship. The US Embassy had no immediate comment.

With mail wires

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