Watch CBS News

American-Israeli IDF soldier Itay Chen confirmed to have died during Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack

American thought held hostage died Oct. 7
American-Israeli soldier believed taken hostage by Hamas died Oct. 7, Israel says 02:08

Itay Chen, a 19-year-old Israeli soldier with dual Israeli-U.S. nationality, has been confirmed dead, the Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday. President Biden later issued a statement mourning Chen, who's father the U.S. leader met late last year at the White House.

Chen had been serving his first year with the IDF when he went missing during Hamas' brutal Oct. 7 terror attack. He was one of six American men believed to have been taken by Hamas militants during the incursion into Israel, but it has now been confirmed that he died that day.

"Our hearts are heavy," President Biden said in a Tuesday statement. "Jill and I are devastated to learn that American Itay Chen was killed by Hamas during its brutal terrorist assault on October 7."

In December, Chen's father and brother joined Mr. Biden at the White House, the president recalled in his statement, "to share the agony and uncertainty they've faced as they prayed for the safe return of their loved one. No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through."

Biden meets with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas 03:40

The IDF confirmed Chen's death Tuesday in a statement, identifying him as "a fighter in the 75th Battalion, an assault formation from the Golan, an IDF soldier kidnapped by a terrorist organization." 

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the body representing Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas, said it shared "in the profound grief of the Chen family," and added that Chen had been "surrounded by friends."

Ruby Chen holds up a portrait of his 19-year-old son, American-Israeli IDF soldier Itay Chen, who was then believed to be a hostage in Gaza, as people watch a broadcast of France's tribute in Paris to the French victims of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas against Israel, in Tel Aviv, Feb. 7, 2024.  AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty

"Itay served on the Gaza border and was taken hostage on that black Saturday. Itay's body is still being held captive by Hamas," the group said in a news release.  

Ruby Chen, Itay's New York-born father, told CBS News not long after the attack that he'd last communicated with his son on the morning of Oct. 7, as the Hamas rampage began.

Father of missing Israeli soldier calls on U.S. to "be active" in hostage recovery 08:24

"He was at his military base, which was on the border of Gaza. The last communication we had with him was Saturday morning, when he sent us a message saying they are under missile attack," the father told CBS News. "We know he was able to mobilize himself to be active in the field. But ever since, we do not know what are his origins."

Hamas seized about 240 people during its unprecedented assault, and around 100 are still believed to be captive in Gaza. Roughly 100 were released during a brief cease-fire with Hamas in November, in a deal that saw dozens of Palestinians freed from Israeli jails.

Hagit Chen, the soldier's mother, was a guest of Republican Sen. Joni Ernst as Mr. Biden delivered his State of the Union address last week.

"For over 150 days, Iran-backed Hamas has held hostage six of our citizens, including Hagit Chen's son Itay, but these terrorists have not paid a price," Ernst said last week. "My heart breaks for Hagit and her husband Ruby, who are experiencing an agony no parent should ever have to endure."

Biden splits with Netanyahu on Gaza war strategy 04:28

The U.S. has been directly involved in intense negotiations, and the Biden administration has been pushing hard for a new temporary cease-fire agreement in Gaza that would see more Israeli hostages released by Hamas and enable a desperately needed influx of humanitarian aid to the decimated Palestinian territory.

Israel launched a war vowing to destroy Hamas, which is deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S., Israel and the European Union, hours after the group launched its Oct. 7 attack. That siege killed about 1,200 people across southern Israel. Health officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip say Israel's retaliatory war has killed more than 30,000 people, most of them women and children, though they do not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths in their tally.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.