The Israeli army confirms the death of American-Israeli soldier Itai Chen; The body is still in Gaza

WASHINGTON – The Israeli military confirmed the death of Itai Chen, the American-Israeli soldier who went missing during the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, on Tuesday.

The family of Chen, a 19-year-old IDF soldier and US-Israeli citizen stationed on the Gaza Strip border, worked to free the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza in hopes that Chen would be among them.

But the Israeli army reported new intelligence on Chen's body He was transferred to Gaza by Hamas activists after being killed during the October 7 attack. His remains are still in Gaza.

“Our hearts are broken. We loved him so much, we would have done anything to bring him home alive,” Ruby and Hajit Chen, Itai Chen's parents, said in a statement.

News of his death comes as the Biden administration's efforts to secure a six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have faltered, with Hamas unwilling to sign a truce. Hamas did not publish a list of the names of about 40 hostages believed to be still in Gaza.

Jake Sullivan, the White House's national security adviser, said five Americans remain hostage in Gaza.

Biden offered his condolences to Chen's family in a statement. “Our hearts are heavy today,” Biden said, adding that he and the first lady were shocked to learn of Itai Chen's death.

Born and raised in New York City, Chen supported American sports, played basketball and chanted the Pledge of Allegiance every day, before later moving with his family to Israel. The family was unable to reach Chen after the October 7 attack, and was told by the Israeli military that his status was missing in action, or MIA.

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“I woke up not knowing where my son slept last night, whether he was given any food or water, whether he was injured. We don't even know if he is alive,” Ruby Chen wrote in a USA TODAY op-ed. January 22.

Ruby Chen was among family members of hostage victims who met with Biden at the White House in December.

Biden said of the Chen family: “No one should have to endure even one day what they went through,” recalling the menorah that Ruby Chen handed him at the end of the meeting as a reminder that “light will always dispel darkness.” Evil will not triumph.”

“Today, as we join Itai’s parents, siblings, and family in grieving this tragic loss, we keep this reminder close to our hearts,” Biden said. “I reaffirm my pledge to all the families of those still being held hostage: we are with you. We will never stop working to bring your loved ones home.”

Chen's parents thanked the Biden administration, members of the US Congress and the American people for their “steadfast support and prayers over the past 158 ​​days.”

“What's more, today we expect Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden to do everything in their power to return Itai, as well as the other 133 hostages, to our homeland,” Chen's parents said in their statement on Tuesday. “We have recognized all the families waiting for their loved ones, and we will not stop working until every hostage returns home.”

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