Joe Biden celebrates release of 4 year old whose parents were killed in Israel

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Sunday celebrated the release of the first American to be freed by Hamas as part of a temporary cease-fire agreement in the group's war with Israel – Avigail Edan, who turned 4 on Friday while she was in captivity.

"Today she's free, and Jill and I together with so many Americans are praying for the fact that she is going to alright," Biden said in remarks from Nantucket.

Biden said the little girl, whose parents were gunned down by Hamas militants, is currently in Israel and that "she's been through a terrible trauma."

"I wish I were there to hold her," Biden said of Edan, who is being referred to by U.S. officials as "Abigail."

The White House said Sunday afternoon that Biden spoke by phone with members of Edan's family in the United States and Israel.

Israel-Hamas war: Young Avigail might have been freed by Hamas Friday. Instead she turned 4 in captivity.

A woman holds a portrait of Avigail Idan, 3, as protesters lift placards during a rally outside the Unicef offices in Tel Aviv on November 20, 2023 to demand the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza since the October 7 attack by Hamas militants, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian armed group. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images) ORIG FILE ID: AFP_34488MZ.jpg

A total of nine Americans, including a U.S. green card holder, are still missing. Two of them are women, who the U.S. expects to be part of the agreement, and seven are men, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday morning.

Sullivan said that the U.S. does not know if any of the Americans who are unaccounted for are alive and if they are behind held hostage, whether it is by Hamas or another militant group.

Edan's parents were killed in the Oct. 7 attack Hamas launched on Israel. She was kidnapped alongside another family that found her wandering near their home. According to the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, she spent 51 days in Hamas captivity.

More than 20 children under the age of 18 have been released, Biden said Sunday.

The U.S. president said he would be speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again "shortly" and would continue working to extend the deal, which includes the release of humanitarian aid into Gaza and Palestinian prisoners.

Biden said that 200 aid trucks have been able to move into Gaza each day carrying food, water, medicine, fuel and cooking gas. "More is needed, but this deal is delivering life-saving results," he told reporters.

The Biden administration hopes to keep the pause in place past Monday.

"The proof that this is working, and worth pursuing further, is in every smile and every grateful tear we see on the faces of those families, who are finally getting back together again," Biden said.

"The proof is little Abigail," he added.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden confirms release of 4-year-old American hostage Avigail Edan