ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- A four-year-old American girl released by the Islamist group Hamas has touched the hearts of many people.
Before being kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip, the little girl, identified as Abigail, witnessed the murder of both her parents.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that on October 7, the then-three-year-old was at home with her two siblings, aged 10 and 6, in a kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip when Hamas terrorists invaded.
The two older children survived because they hid in a closet and held out for 14 hours before being rescued.
A gunman shot the children’s mother, and as her father lay protectively over the girl, he, too, was shot dead.
Ms Abigail, who was initially presumed dead, crawled out from under her father’s body and ran to a neighbour’s house, the Washington Post quoted a relative of the girl as saying.
The terrorists seized the girl, together with the family of five who were there and took them to the Gaza Strip with many other civilians.
Last Friday, the little girl turned four years old in captivity.
“What she endured is unthinkable,” U.S. President Joe Biden said after the girl was released on Sunday – the first U.S. citizen among the hostages freed in the agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Miss Abigail “has been through terrible trauma,” said Mr Biden.
“What a joy it is to see her with us, but on the other hand, it is also sad that she is returning to a reality in which she has no parents,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video posted on X.
“She has no parents, but she has an entire nation that hugs her, and we will take care of all her needs,” Mr Netanyahu added.
Miss Abigail’s great-aunt, Liz Hirsh Naftali, said in a statement on Sunday after the girl had been released that they had “no words to express our relief and gratitude.”
The little girl would be reunited with her siblings and live with her aunt, uncle and grandparents in Israel, said a relative.
Since Friday, Hamas has released 58 of the approximately 240 hostages.
Another 10 hostages are expected to be released this Monday.