Second American hostage Judith Weinstein declared dead after being kidnapped by Hamas

Announcement of Ms Weinstein's death comes a week after her husband was reported to have been killed by the militant group

Judith Weinstein and her husband Gad Haggai were taken hostage by militants on October 7.  AP
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US President Joe Biden on Thursday said that news of the death of a second American-Israeli hostage kidnapped by Hamas “cuts deep”.

“Jill and I are devastated to learn that American Judith Weinstein is also believed to have been killed by Hamas,” Mr Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

Ms Weinstein, 70, is believed to have died in the Hamas attack of October 7. Her body is reportedly being held in Gaza.

Her death was confirmed in a statement from the Kibbutz Nir Oz community earlier on Thursday.

She was an English teacher who had moved to Israel about 30 years ago. She worked with children with special needs and used meditation and mindfulness techniques to help those suffering from anxiety caused by border tension.

“This tragic development cuts deep, coming on the heels of last week’s news that Judith’s beloved husband, Gad Haggai, is believed to have been killed by Hamas,” Mr Biden said.

“We are holding Judith and Gad’s four children, seven grandchildren, and other loved ones close to our heart.”

The two are believed to be the first American hostages killed.

It is believed that eight Americans are still being held by militant groups after being kidnapped on October 7, when Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israeli soil that resulted in 1,200 deaths.

Two Americans have been released since.

Mr Biden reasserted the US commitment to ensure the safety of hostages and work on future releases.

“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,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, where Ms Weinstein was originally from, said in a post on X that he was “grieving and praying for them” while demanding that the issue of remaining hostages be addressed.

“We must keep working to bring the hostages home,” he said. “We cannot wait.”

Updated: December 29, 2023, 6:41 AM