Israel-Hamas war, Iran-backed attacks, Gaza aid deal

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Ruby Chen, father of Itay Chen, who is being held hostage by Hamas, holds an hourglass while speaking a Senate Foreign Relations Committee bipartisan press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 17. Bryan Olin Dozier/NurPhoto/AP

Family members of the six remaining Israeli-American hostages believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza met with several of US President Joe Biden’s top national security advisers at the White House Thursday.

Ruby Chen, father of 19-year-old reservist Itay Chen who has been missing since October 7, told CNN the conversation was “informative,” and that officials offered the families the “broad strokes” of the ongoing efforts to secure the captives’ release. He declined to share those details. 

Officials at the meeting included National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk and deputy homeland security adviser Jen Daskal, according to a White House official.

The official said the administration is “committed to unwavering effort to get family members home,” even as frustration mounts.

“Bottom line, it’s been 104 days and that’s a disappointment and a frustration,” Chen said. “Where’s justice? And do we want more dead US citizens? What is the administration doing about that?”

Some context: Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, four American hostages have been released before negotiations stalled. Talks between Israel and Hamas, with the US, Qatar and Egypt playing mediating roles, are continuing, but there has been no significant breakthrough recently, according to two US officials. 


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