Judy Weinstein Haggai, a 70-year-old U.S. citizen and resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, initially believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 attack, was confirmed to have been fatally wounded in the assault, as announced by the kibbutz’s spokesperson in a statement released Thursday.
Judy Weinstein Haggai, also holding Israeli and Canadian nationalities, was caught in the crossfire alongside her husband, Gadi Haggai, 72, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, who was confirmed dead last week by Israeli officials. Both bodies are currently believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.
The kibbutz spokesperson shared that Weinstein Haggai, a mother of four and grandmother of seven, was a dedicated English teacher for children with special needs. Described as a poet and entrepreneur actively contributing to peace initiatives in the region, her loss is deeply felt.
In response to the tragedy, President Biden expressed devastation, acknowledging the pain endured by the family. The couple’s daughter, Iris, had earlier confirmed her father’s death but lacked updates on her mother’s status.
With connections to the New York area, Weinstein Haggai’s death resonated with political figures, including Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Chuck Schumer, who called the news “devastating.” The family’s ordeal underscores the ongoing challenges faced by those held hostage, with the conflict between Israel and Hamas resulting in significant casualties and ongoing efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages.
The temporary cease-fire in November facilitated the release of 105 hostages, both Israelis and foreigners, in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. However, approximately 129 individuals are still held captive in Gaza, highlighting the complexity and urgency of the situation.