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American woman believed to be held hostage by Hamas was actually killed in Oct. 7 attack, spokesperson says

U.S.-Israeli woman was killed in Oct. 7 attack
U.S.-Israeli woman was killed in Oct. 7 attack, officials say 02:30

A 70-year-old woman with U.S. citizenship who was thought to have been taken to Gaza as a hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 was actually killed during the initial attack, according to a statement released Thursday by the kibbutz she was taken from. 

Judy Weinstein Haggai, who was an Israeli, American and Canadian national, came under fire in the attack on Kibbutz Nir Oz along with her husband, Gadi Haggai, 72, a dual U.S.-Israeli national. Both were believed to have been taken hostage, but last week Israeli officials said they had confirmed Gadi Haggai's death.

According to a spokesperson for Kibbutz Nir Oz, where the couple lived, Judy Weinstein Haggai was also "fatally wounded" by Hamas gunmen in the Oct. 7 attack.

Both bodies are still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza, the spokesperson said. 

Judy Weinstein Haggi and Gadi Haggai
Judy Weinstein Haggi and Gadi Haggai.  Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum

The statement said Weinstein Haggai was a mother of four and grandmother of seven who taught English to children with special needs, and described her as a poet and entrepreneur who "pursued many initiatives to advance peace in the region."

In a statement released by the White House, President Biden said:

"Jill and I are devastated to learn that American Judy Weinstein is also believed to have been killed by Hamas on October 7. This tragic development cuts deep, coming on the heels of last week's news that Judy's beloved husband, Gad Haggai, is believed to have been killed by Hamas. We are holding Judy and Gad's four children, seven grandchildren, and other loved ones close to our hearts.  I will never forget what their daughter, and the family members of other Americans held hostage in Gaza, have shared with me. They have been living through hell for weeks. No family should have to endure such an ordeal. And I reaffirm the pledge we have made to all the families of those still held hostage: we will not stop working to bring them home."

Weinstein Haggai had family ties to the New York area. Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted: "Heartbroken to learn that Judith Weinstein was killed during the October 7 attack. My heart is with her family abroad and those still here in New York. May her memory be a blessing and may the many hostages still in captivity be brought home safely."

Senator Chuck Schumer called the news "devastating." "I'm grieving and praying for them. We must keep working to bring the hostages home. We cannot wait," he wrote.

The couple's daughter, Iris, told CBS News in late November that she had seen video evidence that her father was killed, and said at that time that she had had no updates about her mother. 

"The hostages that were released didn't see her. They didn't hear about her," she told CBS News, as dozens of hostages were released as part of a temporary cease-fire. "I don't have any proof of life for my mom. Nothing."

Israel has said about 250 people were taken hostage by Hamas and other militants who rampaged through communities in southern Israel, near the Gaza border, on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas and responded with a major military assault on Gaza, which remains ongoing and has killed at least 21,000 people in the territory, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. 

A temporary cease-fire in November led to the release of 105 hostages — Israelis as well as some foreigners — in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. According to Israeli authorities, about 129 people are still being held hostage in Gaza.

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