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Israeli American mother released as husband remains in Hamas captivity

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After more than 50 days, Liat Beinin was freed from Hamas captivity Wednesday.

Beinin, 49, was one of nine Americans and one legal permanent resident who are believed to be among the roughly 240 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, according to U.S. officials. So far, only she and 4-year-old Abigail Edan have been released.

President Biden commented on Beinin’s release, writing: “Jill and I are deeply gratified that she will soon be reunited with her three children and her father, who have been wracked with worry for her safety.”

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Beinin’s American-born parents immigrated to Israel about 50 years ago. Her father, Yehuda Beinin, said the U.S. government “has been very helpful from the very first day.” Yehuda has traveled to Washington repeatedly and met with Vice President Harris, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Roger Carstens.

Beinin is a high school history and civics teacher and the mother of three children. Once a week, she gives tours at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. Beinin was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz during the Oct. 7 attack. Her husband, Aviv Atzili, oversaw the heavy agricultural machinery used to cultivate the kibbutz’s thousands of acres of peanuts, carrots and potatoes. Atzili, 49, remains a hostage of Hamas, according to the White House.

“We remain determined to secure the release of every person taken hostage by Hamas during its brutal terrorist assault on Israel on October 7, including Liat’s husband Aviv,” Biden said in a statement.

The couple’s oldest child, 22, was at a friend’s house the day of the attack and managed to remain hidden. Their middle child, 20, survived by holding the door of a safe room closed, preventing the attackers from entering. Their youngest child, 18, was not on the kibbutz during the attack. The kibbutz is about 1½ miles from the Gaza Strip.

Recent days have been agonizing. The family has waited by the phone for news, hoping to hear that Beinin would be among the women and children on the list of those scheduled for release, only to have those hopes crushed.

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On Tuesday night, they received the good news. And by late Wednesday in Israel, Beinin’s parents and sister Tal Beinin — who lives in Portland, Ore. — were at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, anxiously awaiting her arrival. The Israeli government said Beinin is now back in Israel.

Her family is overjoyed at her release, but Yehuda Beinin said his happiness is tempered by the knowledge that Atzili remains captive.

“I’m not letting up in any way,” Yehuda Beinin said Wednesday. “We have a lot of work ahead of us still, unfortunately.”


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