White House Confirms Death Of 19-Year-Old Itay Chen

(Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Ilan Hulkower Contributor
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The White House confirmed Monday that Itay Chen, a 19-year-old with dual American and Israeli citizenship who was believed to be taken hostage on Oct. 7, has died.

Chen was serving his first year in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) when he was slain by Hamas on Oct. 7 and his body taken into the Gaza Strip, CBS News reported. (RELATED: Israeli Bedouin Arab Confronts Palestinian Ambassador About His Kidnapped Relatives)

“Today, our hearts are heavy. Jill and I are devastated to learn that American Itay Chen was killed by Hamas during its brutal terrorist assault on October 7,” Biden said in a statement. “In December, Itay’s father and brother joined me at the White House, to share the agony and uncertainty they’ve faced as they prayed for the safe return of their loved one. No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through. At the end of our meeting, they gave me a menorah—a solemn reminder that light will always dispel the darkness, and evil will not win.”

Biden then pledged to keep working to bring hostages home to their families.

Itay’s father said that the last time he spoke to his son was on the morning of Oct. 7. “He was at his military base, which was on the border of Gaza. The last communication we had with him was Saturday morning, when he sent us a message saying they are under missile attack,” Ruby Chen, Itay’s father, told CBS News. “We know he was able to mobilize himself to be active in the field. But ever since, we do not know what are his origins,” he added.

The IDF similarly announced Chen’s death Tuesday and observed that Chen’s family had been notified. “His death was recently declared by the Military Rabbinate based on findings and new intelligence information,” Emanuel Fabian, a military correspondent for The Times of Israel, tweeted.

This is not the first instance of Hamas taking a lifeless body captive into the Gaza Strip to use as a bargaining chip with Israel. Ayelet Samerano’s son suffered a similar fate on Oct. 7 as his corpse was reportedly taken into a van by two terrorists. Samerano alleged one of the terrorists was a Hamas operative who moonlighted as a United Nations worker.

Over 200 people were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct 7. Six of the hostages were American citizens, according to CBS News.