RELEASE: Ahead of State of the Union, Gottheimer Gathers Families of American Hostages And Bipartisan Members of Congress

Call For Immediate Return of Hamas Hostages

Mar 06, 2024
Press

Above: Gottheimer with constituents Adi and Yael Alexander, parents of American hostage Edan Alexander.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) brought together a bipartisan group of more than a dozen House Members and more than a dozen American hostage family members of those taken by Hamas to unite and call for the immediate return of the hostages.

Video of Gottheimer, Norcross, and constituent Adi Alexander’s remarks can be found here.

More video of the press conference can be found here.

“For more than 150 days, these families have been living in fear as their loved ones, Americans, remain captured. It blows my mind that this isn’t talked about every single day in this country. As a father, I cannot even begin to comprehend what they have been going through for the past five months. No family should ever have to experience this unfathomable pain,” said Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We want to make sure that no American forgets that Americans are still being held hostage as we speak. Despite Israel’s agreement to terms of a temporary pause, Hamas refuses to agree to the negotiated terms.”

American hostage family members in attendance include:

  • Adi Alexander, father of American hostage Edan Alexander, as a guest of Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5), with special thanks to Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO-8) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19).
  • Yael Alexander, mother of American hostage Edan Alexander, as a guest of Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1).
  • Yehuda Beinin, father of released American hostage Liat Atzili, as a guest of Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2).
  • Hagit Chen, mother of American hostage Itay Chen, as a guest of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).
  • Ruby Chen, father of American hostage Itay Chen, as a guest of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).
  • Jonathan Dekel-Chen, father of American hostage Sagui Dekel-Chen, as a guest of Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5), with special thanks to Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO-8) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19).
  • Ester “Etty” Israeli, aunt of American hostage Itay Chen.
  • Liz Naftali, great-aunt of released American hostage Abigail Mor Edan, as a guest of Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI-11).
  • Orna and Daniel Neutra, mother and brother of American hostage Omer Neutra, as guests of Rep. Mike Lawler (D-NY-17) and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).
  • Ronen Neutra, father of American hostage Omer Neutra, as a guest of Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3).
  • Abby Polin, aunt of American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, as a guest of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL-10). 
  • Andrea Weinstein, sister of murdered American hostages Judy Weinstein and Gad Haggai, as a guest of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-8).

Gottheimer was joined by Representatives Goldman (NY-10), Hoyer (MD-5), Landsman (OH-1), Lawler (NY- 17), Manning (NC-6), Norcross (NJ-1), Panetta (CA-19), Schneider (IL-10), Sherman (CA-32), Smith (MO-8), Steube (FL 17), Suozzi (NY-3), Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), Wilson (FL-24).

Gottheimer remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Good Afternoon.

I want to thank all of you for joining me in standing with these family members in support, solidarity, and unity to call for the return of all of the 136 hostages being held in Gaza at the hands of Hamas terrorists – especially our fellow Americans.

Eight Americans are still hostage, including two who we know are deceased but have yet to be returned to their families. Only three have been released.

This was an attack on America, and, as a reminder, as much as they hate Israel, they also hate us. They are Iranian-backed proxies who continue to wage attacks on our bases, on Americans, and our families.

These families will all be guests of ours at the President’s State of the Union address tomorrow night, representing every American hostage.

For more than 150 days, these families have been living in fear as their loved ones, Americans, remain captured. It blows my mind that this isn’t talked about every single day in this country.

As a father, I cannot even begin to comprehend what they have been going through for the past five months. No family should ever have to experience this unfathomable pain.

We want to make sure that no American forgets that Americans are still being held hostage as we speak. Despite Israel’s agreement to terms of a temporary pause, Hamas refuses to agree to the negotiated terms.

For this year’s State of the Union, I am honored to have Adi Alexander, a constituent of mine, and the father of Edan Alexander, and Jonathan Dekel-Chen, the father of Sagui Dekel Chen, as my guests.

We wish that we didn’t have to be here today. We wish that the family members of these brave Americans could be home with their loved ones. But on October 7, Hamas terrorists attacked Israel and abducted more than 230 people and killed, raped, beheaded, and burned alive thousands.

We will continue to stand by these American families until every last hostage is returned home, and we will stand by our key ally Israel until Hamas is crushed and humanitarian aid is delivered.

Thank you, God bless you, God bless these families, and our great country.

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