update deskIsrael at War

State Department ‘aware’ of two Americans detained by Israel in Gaza

A family member said that two U.S. citizens, aged 20 and 18, were part of a group of about 20 men that the IDF detained in a raid of a Gazan home.

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesman at the U.S. State Department, at the department's press briefing on Sept. 6, 2022. Credit: Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.
Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesman at the U.S. State Department, at the department's press briefing on Sept. 6, 2022. Credit: Freddie Everett/U.S. State Department.

The Biden administration is aware of two U.S. citizens whom Israel detained in Gaza on Thursday, Vedant Patel, deputy State Department spokesman, said in a department press briefing.

“We have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens overseas,” he said. “We are aware of these reports, and we are currently seeking additional information.”

Patel added that he had no further information to make public nor would he speculate about whether any detained U.S. citizens were suspected of being “militants.”

The brothers Hashem Alagha, 20, and Borak Alagha, 18, were part of a group of about 20 men detained by the Israel Defense Forces during a raid on the brothers’ family home in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the young men’s cousin, Yasmeen Elagha, told CNN.

Their father, a Canadian citizen, was also detained, according to Elagha, who lives in Chicago.

Elagha sued the Biden administration in December, claiming that the State Department’s success in evacuating Israeli-Americans and failure to assist her family members violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Patel declined on Thursday to comment on the litigation but said that the department had assisted nearly 1,600 people, including U.S citizens, lawful permanent residents and other eligible family members in departing Gaza since Oct. 7.

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