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Families of American hostages in Gaza urge Biden to act after 6 months of conflict: 'Don't have time' to wait

The families of American hostages who remain in terrorist custody in the Gaza Strip insist they have no time to wait for “progress” toward a deal to release their loved ones, urging President Biden to get results. 

“By now, they are all in dire humanitarian condition,” Orna Neutra, mother of hostage Omer Neutra, said during a press conference in Lower Manhattan held on Friday. “A cease-fire with a partial deal, or with no deal, could be a death sentence for our son.”

“We are tired of hearing about progress towards a deal,” Neutra said. “We don’t have time for progress.”

The family members gathered Friday, marking six months since their loved ones disappeared into the Gaza Strip as hostages of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Reps. Mike Lawler, R-NY, and Dan Goldman, D-NY, joined the families in their plea.


Hamas and Islamic Jihad released around half of their hostages in November during a temporary cease-fire as part of a deal that collapsed after just one week had passed, with both sides accusing the other of breaking the terms of the agreement. 

An Israeli military official told the Fox News Jerusalem Bureau that they estimate 133 hostages remain in the Gaza Strip. 

Six surviving hostages are American, the State Department said in January. The U.S. continues to work with Qatar and Egypt to negotiate a deal to release all hostages in exchange for a cease-fire, but talks stalled out in recent weeks. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week insisted, “Our conviction remains that we need to see an immediate cease-fire to enable the release of hostages, but also to enable a dramatic surge in humanitarian assistance, as well as, obviously, better protecting civilians.” 


Hamas also keeps the remains of those hostages who have died, as additional bargaining chips. Families have not been able to start the traditional grieving process of sitting Shiva, because they do not have the bodies back. 

“The devastation in Gaza is so tremendous, yes. The starvation, the destruction, the illness, the death,” said Gillian Kaye, stepmother of American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen. “How could people of conscience not feel that something has to happen? There needs to be a cease-fire.”

Gaza Strip Hamas

However, Hamas has pursued a phased release of remaining hostages in exchange for ending the war and releasing Palestinian prisoners. Israel walked away from the negotiating table after Hamas rejected the most recent proposal, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the terrorist group’s demands delusional. 

Bill Ackman, a billionaire and Harvard alumnus who has spoken out on a number of issues related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, wrote on social media platform X, “I still believe the average American has no idea Americas are being held hostage by Hamas.” 


“The White House issues hundreds if not thousands of statements and they do so to appease constituents among other reasons,” Ackman wrote. “But there is a big difference between the WH issuing a statement and Biden elevating an issue in his own words spoken by him.”

“The media has written countless stories on Biden’s commentary on Snicker bar shrinkage, junk fees and shrinkflation, but I cannot think of an example where the media wrote about or talked on TV about Biden elevating the American hostage issue, and I am a big consumer of media,” Ackman added. “That is likely because for political reasons, the administration does not want to remind the American people that hostages are still being held.”

Biden and Netanyahu split image

The families spoke with Fox News Digital earlier this week, describing how they “live in a different galaxy, all of us families,” with every day “a decision to get up and pretend to be a human.” 

“We’re in a constant state of trauma, terror, agony, angst, misery, it’s constant. There’s never one second of not feeling trauma,” said Rachel Goldberg-Polin, who last heard from her son minutes before his arm was blown off by terrorists.

Her son, Hersh Goldberg Polin, 23, was kidnapped from the Nova music festival taking place near the border with Gaza when Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched their attack. 

“I want to pray and be optimistic and hopeful that our leaders will be leaders,” she said. “Being a leader means doing what’s right for the people, even if it isn’t always right for the leaders. It requires a lot of courage and selflessness and tenacity and bravery, and that’s what I wish for the leaders of all these different entities that are trying to lean in.”

Politico reported that Biden was “privately enraged” about an airstrike that killed seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen, and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau in response to a Politico story lashed out at the president for refusing to “use leverage to stop the IDF from killing and starving innocent people,” saying reports about his private opposition “only make him look weak.” 

Fox News Digital’s Ruth Marks Eglash and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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