(NEW YORK) — The family of an American-Israeli couple believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7 is recounting the agonizing details of what they know from that day and pleading for them to be released.
David Siegel, who told “Good Morning America” co-anchor George Stephanopoulos that his brother and sister-in-law are believed to be held hostage in Gaza, is a doctor who lives in Rochester, New York. He said his brother, Keith Siegel, 62, moved to Israel about 40 years ago, where Keith met his wife, Adrienne, 64.
The couple, who live in the Kfar Aza kibbutz, where more than 100 people were killed during the attack by Hamas terrorists, went to their safe house when sirens went off, alerting people of rockets landing near the kibbutz, David Siegel said.
“They were communicating by text and by WhatsApp with their adult children and with my brother and sister-in-law, who also live in Israel. … Then the messaging stopped and it was unclear what had happened,” David Siegel said.
“As the Israeli army moved in and cleared the community, they got to their home and they weren’t there and they weren’t in their safe house,” David Siegel said.
David Siegel and his wife, Susan McDaniel, told “GMA” they are pleased with the U.S. government’s efforts to release the hostages and hope that they can all be released.
“Our family met with [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken, they met with President [Joe] Biden over Zoom and we’re impressed with how committed they are to getting them released,” McDaniel said.
Israeli officials said 241 people were taken hostage during the attack. Ten Americans remain unaccounted for, “some significant number” of which are hostages, Blinken said on Oct. 24.
The Oct. 7 attack by the Hamas terrorist group killed more than 1,400 Israelis, according to Israeli officials, and has led to a bombing and ground campaign in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 9,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
The U.S. has asked for “humanitarian pauses” in order to get aid in and foreign nationals, injured Palestinians and hostages out of Gaza, but talks are still ongoing with Israel, Blinken said Friday during a visit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We are absolutely focused on getting hostages back and getting them back to their families and safety,” Blinken said. “And we believe that, among other things, a humanitarian pause could help that effort, could facilitate it. It’s one of the reasons why we’re focused on it. But regardless, our determination to get people back is manifested every single day in our efforts to do just that.”
McDaniel said they were pleased to hear about two American women from Chicago being released late last month and said they “have faith that [U.S. officials] are working hard to get the rest of the innocent American hostages out.”
David Siegel, who is a pediatric rheumatologist and emeritus professor at the University of Rochester Medical School, and McDaniel, a psychologist affiliated with the medical school, hope their family members will be released.
“Keith and Adrienne are grandparents, parents. They are innocent people in this circumstance,” David Siegel said. “I can’t imagine what they are going through. We want them to be strong and we want them to be released so they can come home.”
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