Itay Chen, a US-Israeli dual citizen, was serving with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) on the Gaza border when Hamas launched its devastating terror attack on Israel on Saturday morning.
His father, Ruby Chen, who is from Brooklyn, New York, but now lives in Netanya, Israel, said the last he heard from his ‘wonderful’ son was that his base was under heavy bombardment.
Itay has since been confirmed as missing in action (MIA) by the IDF.
Mr. Chen said he had reached out to the U.S. State Department for help, but criticized American authorities for ‘taking a back seat’ in the investigation into Itay’s whereabouts.
New York-born Ruby Chen made a direct plea to Joe Biden asking that the US does more to help its dual citizens who have gone missing or been taken hostage by Hamas in Israel
Mr. Chen said his son, Itay (pictured), had been confirmed as missing in action by the Israeli Defense Force he was serving on the Gaza border on Saturday as Hamas launched its attack
In a heartbreaking revelation, the New Yorker said his son had only stayed at the base so he could return home for his younger brother’s bar mitzvah – a Jewish initiation ceremony for a boy turning 13 – this weekend.
Now, however, Mr. Chen said it was ‘fair assumption’ Itay may no longer be in Israel, implying his son may have been taken hostage by Hamas.
It comes after the U.S. State Department confirmed Monday nine Americans were killed in Israel during Hamas’ massive terrorist attack that began Saturday morning.
Authorities are desperately trying to locate an unknown number of missing US citizens.
More than 700 people have been killed in Israel since Saturday, including 260 people massacred by Hamas gunmen at a music festival.
Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer said on CNN on Sunday that ‘scores of hostages’ were taken into Gaza. ‘I can tell you there’s also American hostages as part of that number as well,’ Dermer added.
Mr. Chen described his last contact with his son on Saturday as ‘a very short call’, in which Itay revealed his base was ‘under attack’.
The soldier was seen two hours after that call, but not since then, his father said.
‘No one has seen him in the hospital…and no one has seen him in a morgue deceased,’ Mr. Chen told CNN.
‘So the only thing that the IDF has to say is we don’t know where he is.’
Mr. Chen made a direct plea to President Biden to step up US efforts to help its dual citizens under attack from Hamas.
‘I today with my family went in front of the U.S. Embassy asking the U.S. Embassy to treat us first and my son as a U.S. citizen,’ he said.
‘A U.S. citizen is missing in action…And if he is indeed missing in action and might even be a prisoner of war (PoW), I think that the U.S. at a minimum needs to demand that any PoW needs to be treated according to international law, which states that you need to take care of the prisoner, you need to identify him, you need to allow the red cross or the U.N. to visit and see what is the status of that prisoner.
‘We unfortunately do not get that treatment at the moment. President Biden and the Secretary of State [Anthony Blinken], we have great respect for them. They are saying all the correct things that we expect them to say.
‘But again, we believe that they could be more active in the actions to be taken to identify and find these U.S. citizens that are missing in action.’
Mr. Chen said he had reached out to the U.S. State Department for help, but criticized American authorities for ‘taking a back seat’ in the investigation into Itay’s whereabouts
Mr. Chen said he was hopeful Itay, a basketball fanatic who idolized Coby Bryant growing up, could be reunited with his brother in time for his landmark celebration this weekend.
‘We still very much hope that we will be able to celebrate this bar mitzvah ceremony with all of our families together,’ he added.
‘I plead to President Biden…please do all in your power to make sure that we know where our son is and be able to celebrate as we wanted to just a week ago.’
The State Department is yet to confirm the identity of any Americans missing or killed in Israel since Hamas launched its brutal attack on Saturday morning.
The parents of a missing 23-year-old American man made a plea for him to ‘come home’ after he sent a chilling text message to them while he attended a desert party in Israel, moments before Hamas launched a surprise attack that killed 260 people at the festival.
Hersh Golberg-Polin, 23, texted his mother and father ‘I love you, I’m sorry’ at 8.11am on Saturday – as callous Palestinian militants declared war on Israel, took dozens of people as hostage and killed hundreds during the Jewish high holiday.
Born in Berkeley, California, Hersh and his family moved to Jerusalem when he was just seven-years-old.
His family have no idea where he is – and they are now fearing for his life, after he spent the evening at the desert rave near the Gaza Strip that was infiltrated and ambushed by Palestinian terrorists.
Ilan Troen, a professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, said that his daughter Deborah Matias, 50, and her husband, Shlomi, were killed when Hamas fighters attacked their community in southern Israel.
The Boston-born academic recalled how his daughter Debbie Shahar Troen Mathias and son-in-law Shlomi Mathias were killed by gunmen from the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
Born in Berkeley, California , Hersh and his family moved to Jerusalem when he was just seven-years-old
Hersh Golberg-Polin, 23, texted his mother and father ‘I love you. I’m sorry’ at 8.11am on Saturday – as Palestinian militants declared war on Israel, took dozens of people as hostage and killed hundreds during the Jewish high holiday
Debbie Shahar Troen Mathias and Shlomi Mathias. They were killed while protecting their son in Israel
Professor Ilan Troen had recently retired from his role at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts , and moved to Israel to live. The Boston-born academic recalled how his daughter and son-in-law were killed by gunmen from the Gaza strip on Saturday – and how the pair managed to save their teenage son by flinging their bodies over him
They managed to save their teenage son by flinging their bodies over him.
The family were together in a secure room inside their home when in was penetrated by Hamas fighters.
The young boy, Troen’s grandson, was shot in the abdomen and is in hospital.
Cincinnati native and Israel resident Hannah Katsman said on Facebook that her son Hayim Katsman was killed at his kibbutz near the border with Gaza.
Mr Katsman, an academic who specialized in Israel studies, was a graduate of the University of Washington.
It is unclear if Ms Matias and Mr Katsman are among the elevemUS citizens whose deaths have been confirmed by the State Department.
Meanwhile, Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver, 75, was reportedly abducted from Kibbutz Be’eri on Saturday, near the border.
Born in Winnipeg, Silver was previously director of the Arab Jewish Center For Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation, which organized projects joining communities in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
In 2014, after the last major war between Israel and Hamas, she helped found Women Wage Peace, which promotes peace between women from all communities.
Around 200,000 US citizens live in Israel, around 2.2 per cent of the total Israeli population, according to 2021 data from the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
That year 4,000 Americans emigrated to Israel, the highest number since 1973, according to the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.
A disproportionate number – around one in ten – move to settlements in the West Bank, compared to 3.2 per cent of all new immigrants.
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