At least 22 Americans have lost their lives in the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel, and over 20 individuals from the U.S. are still unaccounted for, according to officials.
President Biden conveyed this latest information on Tuesday, emphasizing his commitment to ensuring the safety of Americans overseas.
He also confirmed that U.S. citizens are among the 150-plus individuals who have been abducted by Hamas.
Deborah Matias, 50
Deborah Matias, originally from Missouri, was in Israel with her family when they were assaulted by Hamas militants, as reported by her father, Ilan Troen, to CNN.
The retired professor from Brandeis University recounted that Matias and her husband, Troen, sought refuge in their family’s secure room along with their 16-year-old son, Rotem. Tragically, Hamas fighters managed to breach the room and opened fire on the family. Matias and her husband shielded Rotem with their own bodies from the gunfire.
While the parents lost their lives, Rotem miraculously survived, despite sustaining a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Hayim Katsman, 32
Hayim Katsman, who earned his PhD from the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies in 2021, was residing in Holit and engrossed in his research when Hamas launched an assault on his village near the Gaza Strip.
Although his family clung to the hope that the academic was alive but abducted, a friend who survived the tragedy confirmed that Katsman was shot and killed by the terrorists. Avital Alajem, who sought refuge with Katsman inside a closet, recounted that he made a selfless sacrifice to ensure her escape.
In return, she managed to rescue two children who had been kidnapped by Hamas. Katsman was a distinguished scholar of religion, and his dissertation delved into religious Zionism in Israel. He was committed to the well-being of “all living beings within the expanse between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” as detailed by the Seattle Times.
Lotan Abir, 24
Lotan Abir, hailing from Utah, was enjoying the Nova Music Festival near the Gaza Strip when over 50 Hamas terrorists descended by paragliders and brutally attacked more than 260 revelers.
Described by his local rabbi as a “fun-loving” young man, Abir was reveling at the festival alongside friends from Utah’s tightly-knit Jewish community. He ultimately sacrificed his life for the sake of our people while celebrating some of his deepest passions.
Rabbi Avremi Zippel conveyed to the Salt Lake Tribune, “Just a kind, sweet, fun-loving, innocent soul who was massacred by a terrorist.” Abir had relocated to Utah in 2022 to establish a settled life after concluding his military service in Israel.
Adrienne Neta, 66
Adrienne Neta, a grandmother, is one of the American citizens currently missing after the extremist attack in Israel. Neta’s daughter struggled to hold back tears during a conference on Tuesday as she recounted the moment her mother called her when the terrorists entered her home in Be’eri.
She shared, “We heard a little bit of screaming, and that was our last contact with her.” The son expressed their hope, though they acknowledged it may be overly optimistic at this stage, that she is being held captive in Gaza rather than having met a tragic fate on the streets of the kibbutz they both grew up in.
Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan
Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan, both from Illinois, were on a visit to family in the village of Nahal Oz, situated along the Gaza Strip border, when they disappeared on Saturday.
Judith’s brother and Natalie’s father expressed concern, as they had not received any communication from the two and feared they may have been taken by the terrorists. In a desperate Facebook post, Uri Raanan, the father, stated, “My daughter and her mother have been [captured] by HAMAS.”
Hersh Golberg-Polin, 23
Hersh Golberg-Polin, who hails from California, was also present at the Nova rave when terrorists attacked. He tragically lost his arm in the incident. Before disappearing, he sent heart-wrenching texts expressing his love to his family.
His mother, Rachel Goldberg, recounted that her son was among those bravely trying to protect others and resist Hamas before he was injured. She described the harrowing events, saying, “Terrorists came to the door, they were throwing grenades in, shooting machine guns.”
She further explained that Hersh’s arm, from the elbow down, was severed in the explosion, and he managed to fashion a tourniquet using his shirt. Hamas then took him away on the back of a truck, according to Goldberg.
Sagui Dekel-Chen, 35
Sagui Dekel-Chen, originally from Connecticut, disappeared from the Nir Oz kibbutz as soon as the massacre began on Saturday morning.
His father, Johnathan, joined other families of the missing Americans in urging the US to take any necessary action to reunite their loved ones and put an end to Hamas.
Johnathan, who grew up in Connecticut, expressed his belief that the United States, a place he holds dear, should always stand on the side of good. He characterized Hamas as evil.
Itay Chen, 19
Itay Chen, a dual US-Israeli citizen, went missing on Saturday while serving in the Israeli army along the Gaza border, according to his father Ruby. Ruby, originally from New York, expressed his deep concern as he has not received any communication from his son since his unit was attacked by Hamas.
He fears that Itay may be among the IDF soldiers who were taken captive by Hamas. Alongside other worried parents, Ruby pleaded with President Biden and the Secretary of State, acknowledging their positive stance toward Israel, to take action and expedite the safe return of their loved ones. They emphasized the urgency of this matter.
Laor Abramov, 20
Laor Abramov, hailing from New Jersey, was in an Israeli bomb shelter when he last communicated with his family on the day of the Hamas attack.
He called his father, who is also my brother, in the morning around 7:30, informing him, ‘People are shooting at us,’ as recounted by Abramov’s aunt, Yael Abramov, in a statement to The Post on Tuesday.
He reassured his family, saying, ‘I am going into a missile shelter, a bomb shelter, and don’t worry. I’m not going to be able to speak because it’s very noisy.’ Following that conversation, we lost all contact and didn’t know what was happening.”
After hours of no contact, Abramov’s family came across a photo of him at a bomb shelter that came under attack by Hamas, who opened fire on the civilians. One of the survivors informed Abramov’s family that the 20-year-old was apprehended by Hamas, who gathered survivors and transported them away on trucks.