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List of American Hostages Still Held by Hamas: Why Don’t We All Know Their Names?

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We’re old enough to remember when American hostages held by terrorist groups overseas were big national stories, their names known by every American through wall-to-wall media coverage; their release sought through aggressive pressure by U.S. presidents, local politicians, and the media.

Terry Anderson, the Associated Press journalist kidnapped by Hezbollah in 1985, comes to mind. Or Kevin Hermening, A hostage held captive during the Iranian hostage crisis. Or Daniel Pearl, murdered after being taken hostage in Pakistan.

Yet it’s surprisingly extremely difficult to find a list of the six Americans held hostage by Hamas, as of Jan. 19, if you don’t already know their names.

Their names should have immediate household recognition by now; the U.S. government should be doing everything in its power to secure their release. Each has received some local coverage, and some a smattering of national coverage, but it is way too difficult to find their names as a group. Instead, we had to zoom in on a video frame in a news conference where families held up missing posters to figure out each of their names. They are:

Itay Chen, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Keith Siegel, Edan Alexander, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, and Omer Neutra.

Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and dozens of other Democratic Senators refused on January 18 to make freeing the American hostages a requirement for Palestinian governmental entities to continue receiving money from the United States. In other cases, elected officials in other states have met with families and urged the hostages’ release. Yet time is running out for the hostages, American and otherwise. Some of the families believe the American government is working hard to secure the hostages’ release, but time is ticking away, and the six remain missing. Other senators say various tactics have been attempted to obtain the hostages’ release, to no avail.

It just seems that the fact six U.S. citizens are still being held hostage by a brutal terrorist group more than three months after the attack should be sparking wall-to-wall news coverage and urgency, with a nation coming together to demand that everything possible be done to secure their release.

“We are pressing for action from anybody that we see,” Ronen Neutra, the father of American hostage Omer Neutra told journalist Andrea Mitchell. “Whether it’s the State Department or FBI or Israeli authorities.”

The families are suffering immense trauma as they wait for news.

Hagit Chen, the mother of U.S. hostage Itay Chen says that she is “barely able to breathe,” indicating, “I cannot wait. Itay cannot wait, none of the captives can wait. The time is up.”

“The longings choke me,” she said. “I am worried. I can’t sleep at night. I collapse from exhaustion.”

“Every second is a second closer to death for all of them,” the mother of American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin told Jewish News Syndicate.

Here are profiles of each American hostage still held by Hamas, as of Jan. 19. Two of the hostages were kidnapped from kibbutzes, one was taken from the rave, and three were defending Israel’s border communities with the Israeli military. Some have dual American-Israeli citizenship.


Keith Siegel, American Hostage Held by Hamas: A Grandfather of 5 With the ‘Kindest, Gentlest Heart’

Keith siegel
Keith siegel, american hostage.

According to The Times of Israel, Siegel, 64, was taken hostage with his wife Aviva Siegel “from their home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7.”

Keith Siegel, a U.S. citizen, is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who moved to Israel “as a young man,” according to WRAL-TV.</a He is a grandfather of five.

Siegel is an occupational therapist. There is a Facebook page devoted to hostages who are OTs. The page, Free the OTS, posted recently, “This is very difficult but necessary to hear. It’s even more painful when we realize our OT colleagues Keith Siegel & Carmel Gat are still hostages and susceptible further abuse, sexual and otherwise.”

Aviva was released on Nov. 26, but Keith remains a captive, according to the site, which said “the couple was driven into Gaza in their own car, along with a neighbor and her two children.”

On Dec. 29, a woman wrote on Facebook, “One of my best and beloved friends, Keith Siegel, is 84 days in Gaza. KIDNAPPED! I’m worried and afraid, and I want him back home!!! With his wife, kids, grandchildren, and friends. Keith has the kindest, gentlest heart. He is a gift to anyone who knows him. I hope he’s staying strong and healthy in body and mind. Hope he doesn’t lose hope. Hope he knows how many people are waiting for his return, trying to do everything possible to make it happen. Keith, I beg of you not to give up.”


Edan Alexander, American Hostage Held by Hamas: ‘A Great All-American Kid’

Edan alexander
Edan alexander

According to the Bergen Record, Alexander, 20, is a graduate of Tenafly High School in New Jersey. After graduating from high school, he volunteered to serve in the Israeli military, the newspaper reported, adding that Alexander is a “dual citizen.”

 

 

 

“He volunteered for the IDF because he felt it was the right thing to do. We’re very proud of him….He’s very idealistic, which is why he decided to join the army,” his father Adi Alexander told The Bergen Record.

“He’s a great all-American kid.”

Gov. Phil Murphy wrote on Facebook on Jan. 15, “For 100 days, innocent Americans and Israelis have been held at the hands of Hamas terrorists. I have seen the pain in the faces of Edan Alexander’s family and I pray for his immediate return and that of all hostages.”

Daily News reported that Alexander was taken hostage when terrorists surrounded his “military post.”


Itay Chen, American Hostage Held by Hamas: ‘Not That Long Ago, He Was a Boy Scout’

Itay chen
Itay chen

According to The Times of Israel, both of Chen’s parents were born in the United States.

He was kidnapped on Oct. 7 while on “active duty, part of a tank unit at the Nahal Oz army base,” the site reported, adding that he is a “dual U.S.-Israeli citizen.”

He was stationed to defend “Gaza border communities,” the site reported.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Itay “wasn’t a commando attacking enemy positions the day of the Hamas attack. Just a teenager doing his mandatory military service. Not that long ago, he was a Boy Scout.”

The family has ties to New York, where Itay’s dad grew up. Ruby Chen, Itay’s father, told the Guardian, “We know nothing. It’s been a living hell.” The family was informed that Chen is likely a hostage, according to The Guardian.


Sagui Dekel-Chen, American Hostage Held by Hamas: ‘Physically Fought’ the Terrorists to Protect His Family

Sagui dekel chen
Sagui dekel chen

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, Sagui’s father, told Slate that he and his son lived in an Israel kibbutz named Nir Oz when Hamas terrorists kidnapped Sagui, 35.

“A lot of the photos that we’ve had for Sagui and from my other kids and grandkids were burned on Oct. 7,” Dekel-Chen said to Slate. “It was not just a murderous rampage and hostage taking, it was full scale looting and destruction.”

Sagui and his father are both American citizens, Slate reported.

“I’d love to share all kinds of photos: him as a little boy, as a baseball player. He was one of the few Israelis who actually knows how to play baseball by virtue of my addiction to the sport. And he bought into it, thank goodness, when he was a boy, so I’d have a playmate,” his dad told Slate.

PBS reported that Sagui “physically fought the terrorists.”

“This is my struggle to free Sagui or ascertain that he and the others are alive,” the father told Times of Israel. “These are my friends, my neighbors, teachers, students, nurses, farmers. I, like the other families, desperately want our loved ones back and to do anything to come home and fulfill their dreams.”

Sagui’s wife heard her husband in “hand-to-hand combat” with the terrorists, according to Times of Israel.


Hersh Goldberg-Polin, American Hostage Held by Hamas: Wrote ‘I Love You’ in Final Message From Rave

Hersh goldberg polin
Hersh goldberg polin

There is a Facebook page called Bring Hersh Home.

Goldberg-Polin had attended the music festival where many people were murdered or kidnapped. “Two messages popped up; both were from Hersh. The first one said, ‘I love you’ and the second, ‘I’m sorry.’ I knew right away that something horrible had happened,” his mother told Jewish News Syndicate. That’s the last she heard from him.

He was later spotted in footage from the festival.

“Hersh is seen walking out of the bomb shelter on his own two feet and hoisting himself up on a Hamas pickup truck. Nobody was dragging him. As he turned around to sit down, we saw a jagged bone sticking out where his arm used to be. This was the last time I saw my son—more than 70 days ago,” his mother, Rachel Goldberg-Polin told JNS.

“At all times, there’s an excruciating, agonizing despair that is just constant, and unlike regular trauma, which hits you out of nowhere and you have to figure out how do I start to turn over, stand up and walk forward, with all of us hostage families, this is a slow-motion trauma,” Rachel told NBC Miami.

The television station reported that Hersh “was part of an initiative using soccer to bring Israeli and Arab kids together.”

“He was an active peace pursuer and since this has happened, I should mention that one of his close Palestinian friends, who is a Muslim, has come to us, has reached out to us, and that has meant the world to us,” Goldberg-Polin said to NBC Miami.


Omer Neutra: American Hostage Held by Hamas: The Grandson of Holocaust Survivors

American hostages held by hamas

According to Reuters, Neutra, 22, is described as “as a natural leader and avid athlete who captained the basketball, volleyball and soccer teams at his school.”

Reuters reported that Neutra is “the grandson of Holocaust survivors” who “joined the Israel Defense Forces.”

He grew up in Long Island, according to CBS News, which reported that Neutra “was an honors student at Schecter Yeshiva in Williston Park, where he excelled on and off the court. After he graduated, and before college, he took a gap year in Israel to connect with his family roots, and then decided to stay and join the Israeli military.”

He was assigned to patrol the border, Reuters reported.

“We are heartbroken. We are worried,” his mother said to Reuters. “But we are focused and resolute in doing everything within our power to bring Omer back.”
According to Courthouse News Service, Omer Neutra is a dual American-Israeli citizen.

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