Sarasota couple waits for word on son after release of hostages from Gaza

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hamas did not release any of the ten American hostages during the first day of the temporary truce with Israel on Friday. A Sarasota resident and her husband are still waiting for their son to return home.

“Our goal is to get all the hostages home, Sagui among them,” Jonathan Dekel-Chen said.

Sagui Dekel-Chen, 35, hasn’t been heard from since the terror attacks seven weeks ago on Oct. 7 in Southern Israel. His parents said he was last seen defending his pregnant wife and two young daughters during the massacre at his kibbutz near the Gaza border.

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“The results were tragic,” Dekel-Chen said. “Between the people murdered and the people taken captive and the physical destruction of our home. Am I proud of him? Of course I’m a proud dad, but more importantly we want him back.”

12 of the 13 Israeli women and children to be freed Friday are from Kibbutz Nir Oz. Dekel-Chen considers them to be his extended family.

While he was away in the U.S. on October 7, the American born university professor in Israel has lived there for almost 40 years.

“I couldn’t be happier and the surviving community of the kibbutz couldn’t be happier that these young and not-so-young people are home and seem to be safe from what we know right now,” he said.

Gillian Kaye holding a photo of her stepson Sagui Dekel-Chen (WFLA)
Gillian Kaye holding a photo of her stepson Sagui Dekel-Chen (WFLA)

Jonathan and his wife, Gillian Kaye, travelled to Washington, D.C. last week with the families of the American hostages to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota) presented them the American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol during the mass Stand with Israel march.

“May he return home to his beloved family and may god bless the people of Israel,” Kaye said, reading a portion of Rep. Buchanan’s proclamation.

Sagui’s parents said they are entrusting the Israeli government and its allies to secure the release of their son and the more than 200 hostages still in Hamas captivity.

“The hostages need to be brought home by any and all means and for now it’s the negotiation path,” Dekel-Chen said.

They are holding on to hope that will happen sooner than later.

“He’s got a little girl on the way in two weeks,” Kaye said. “He needs to see that little girl and the other ones who are waiting for him.”

Kaye added they are grateful for the support they are receiving from the U.S. government, their elected officials and the local Sarasota community.

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