December 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israeli American Dies in Hamas Captivity         

December 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israeli American Dies in Hamas Captivity         

Latest Developments

An Israeli American hostage has died in Hamas captivity, his family announced on December 22. Gadi Haggai, 73, and his wife Judith Weinstein Haggai, were taken hostage at Kibbutz Nir Oz during the cross-border rampage by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists on October 7. Judith remains among the 129 people still held by Hamas, 22 of whom Israel has declared dead in absentia.         

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum announced Haggai’s death. He was one of an estimated eight American dual nationals reported to be in Hamas captivity and whose plight has been emphasized by the Biden administration.         

Expert Analysis

“One of the searing mysteries of this crisis is the apparent nonchalance expressed by so many Americans upon learning that fellow citizens are being held hostage by a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The tragic death of an American in Hamas’s hands should be a wakeup call.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The United States has been remarkably passive about multiple acts of Iranian aggression across the Middle East since this crisis began. Whether it’s missile or drone attacks from Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq; Iran-backed Houthi attacks out of Yemen; or the taking of American hostages by the Iran-backed Hamas, the U.S. response has been lacking. An overhaul of American policy is going to be needed if the acts of Iranian aggression continue. Passivity is not sustainable in the medium and long term if the goal is to sustain the U.S.-led order in the Middle East.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Failed Negotiations

On December 20, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — both of whom hold hostages — rejected an Israeli offer for a seven-day pause in its military operation to free 40 hostages, including the remaining women, children, elderly men, and injured. Although there appears to be some dispute among its leaders, Hamas has now said it would not release any more hostages until Israel permanently ends its war against the organization. This demand essentially allows the Iran-backed terrorist organization to remain intact.

Since the start of the conflict, Israel has maintained that its goal is to remove Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message on December 21 that Israel will keep fighting until victory. “We will not stop the war until we achieve all of its goals: Completing the elimination of Hamas and releasing all of our hostages,” said Netanyahu. “The choice I propose to Hamas is very simple: Surrender or die. They do not have — and will not have — any other choice.”

Hamas Rejects Israel’s Offer for Second Humanitarian Pause,” FDD Flash Brief

Red Cross President Calls on Hamas to Release Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Qatar’s Leverage on Hamas Falters, Hostages Remain,” FDD Flash Brief


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