An American citizen taken hostage by Hamas has been found dead, Israel’s military confirmed Thursday.
Carmela Dan, 80, was snatched from her kibbutz in the world-shaking Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel. Hamas fighters grabbed Dan, her 12-year-old granddaughter Noya, and three other family members and took them back to Gaza as hostages, according to Israeli authorities.
Carmela and Noya’s bodies were found Wednesday near the Israel-Gaza border, the military said.
“Thank you to all of you who shared her story to help us bring her home,” read a post on the country’s Twitter account. “Our hearts are broken.”
Rockets are fired from Gaza City towards Israel on October 7, 2023.
The fate of the other three relatives, identified in previous stories as Ofer Kalderon, 50, Sahar Kalderon, 16, and Erez Kalderon, 12, remained unknown Thursday. The younger Kalderons are Noya’s siblings, while Ofer is their father.
Noya Dan’s story spread worldwide after Israel shared a picture of her dressed as a “Harry Potter” character, and J.K. Rowling tweeted about her.
President Biden has said 13 Americans were unaccounted for in the days following the Hamas attack. Carmela Dan, an Israeli-American citizen, is the first of those 13 to be confirmed dead.
International leaders believe Hamas is holding around 200 hostages in Gaza, though clear and correct information on the hostage crisis has been hard to obtain.
An Israeli youth douses a fire across the parking lot of a residential building in Ashkelon, following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel, on October 7, 2023.
“I can’t speak publicly about all the details, but let me assure you: For me as the American president, there is no higher priority than the release and safe return of all these hostages,” Biden said Wednesday while meeting in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel prepared Thursday to launch a ground invasion of Gaza. Israeli forces have been bombing the densely populated strip for more than 10 days in response to the initial attack.