4-year-old American who saw her parents murdered has become a symbol in Israel, family says

The family of a 4-year-old Israeli American girl who was released after seven weeks in Hamas’ captivity have described her as a “miracle” and said they hope she can return to normality.

Abigail Mor Edan was freed from Gaza along with 16 other hostages Sunday, the third day of a tentative truce between Hamas and Israel that came after weeks of intense fighting across the Gaza Strip.

Abigail’s parents were killed at the Kfar Aza kibbutz during the Oct. 7 attack that triggered the current Israel-Hamas war. Her older brother and sister survived by hiding in a closet.

So far, 51 Israelis and 18 people of other nationalities who were taken by Hamas have been released as part of the cease-fire deal.

“We can only pray and hope that as the days go on she will be able to live a good life,” Liz Hirsh Naftali, Abigail’s great-aunt, told the “TODAY” show Tuesday morning from Washington, D.C.

She said Abigail was “elated” to be reunited with her siblings and cousins but acknowledged the tragedy she had endured at such a young age.

Abigail Edan, who returned to Israel after being released by Hamas, with her aunt Liron and uncle Zuli at Schneider Children's Medical Center in Israel. Abigail's parents were both killed by Hamas militants in the same attack in which she was kidnapped.
Abigail Edan, who returned to Israel after being released by Hamas, with her aunt and uncle at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Israel. Schneider Children’s Medical Center via AP

“It’s going to be a very slow process, it’s 50 days and having seen her parents murdered, but at least she is home safe,” Naftali said.

“My hope is she will be embraced and go back out and play soccer with her siblings and go back to school and that, while she is a miracle and the hope for the future, that she will be able to live her life as a little girl,” she said.

Naftali said Abigail was held hostage with a woman and her three children, which she called a “blessing” because of the woman’s ability to care for her and “comfort her in the darkness for 50 days.”

Naftali didn’t name the woman but last week the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, an Israeli group, said Abigail was being kept with Hagar Brodutch, 39, and her three children.

Naftali’s daughter Noa told “TODAY” that her cousin, who turned 4 Friday, was “sweet and feisty” and liked to boss her siblings around. “She has a love of life,” she said.

Abigail and her siblings will now be raised by their aunt, Liron, the sister of their murdered mother, and her husband, Zuli.

In a separate interview shown on “TODAY,” another of Abigail’s aunts, Ella Mor, said that the girl had become a symbol to the entire country.

“In Israel, people feel she is Israel’s baby, she is the Israeli baby of everyone,” she said.

Earlier this month, Naftali told NBC News’ Lester Holt that Abigail was in her father’s arms when he was shot by a Hamas gunman. The girl then “crawled out from under her father’s body … full of his blood,” she said.

The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas entered a fifth day Tuesday, with the release of more Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

The cease-fire agreement, brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, compelled Hamas to release at least 50 hostages in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian prisoners, primarily minors who have been held in Israeli jails, in some cases for many years.

There are still about 173 Israeli hostages inside Gaza, the Israeli prime minister’s office said Tuesday.

The first U.S. government flight with humanitarian aid for Gaza is scheduled to arrive in Egypt’s northern Sinai on Tuesday, senior Biden administration officials told NBC News.


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