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    Sunday, March 03, 2024

    American woman with family in Waterford released by Hamas

    Yehuda Beinin and daughter Liat in an undated photo in New York City. Liat Beinin, an American citizen, was released by Hamas Wednesday, Nov.29, 2023 after disappearing from her home in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. (Submitted photo)

    An American citizen with family in Waterford was released Wednesday morning after she had been held hostage by Hamas in Gaza since Oct. 7.

    U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced the release of Liat Beinin, cousin to Jerry Fischer, former president of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, in a news release Wednesday evening. President Joe Biden issued a brief video statement on her release.

    “I am pleased to report Liat Beinin is safe in Egypt. She has crossed the border,” Biden said. “I talked with her mother and father. They’re very appreciative. Things are going well. She will soon be home with her three children.”

    Beinin became the second American citizen to be released in the ongoing effort to free hostages seized by Hamas during its raid into Israel on Oct. 7. Her husband, Aviv Atzili, who also was kidnapped that day, remains in captivity.

    Fischer praised the work of Courtney and the Biden Administration for their efforts to get hostages released. Fischer said he called Courtney on Oct. 7 and told him about Beinin and Atzili and said the congressman, “immediately swung into action. He got Liat registered with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.”

    “After several weeks in captivity, it is a relief to see Liat Beinin back in safe hands, Courtney said in a news release. “I applaud President Biden and his Administration for their steadfast commitment to brokering the deal that made Liat’s release possible.”

    Fischer said since the deadly raid by Hamas Oct. 7, he has been maintaining a daily ritual of getting up at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. to read Israeli newspapers online trying to get news. He kept in constant contact with his cousins in Israel.

    Suddenly on Wednesday, he learned that Beinin was on a list to be released. At about 3 p.m. Wednesday, he saw a headline on an Israeli newspaper that read, “They returned home,” and beneath it was a picture of his cousin, Beinin.

    Fischer said the couple had visited his family in Waterford in August, and the families visited Harkness Memorial State Park and dined at local restaurants.

    Courtney pledged that his office would continue to work with the State Department to free her husband.

    “I am wishing Liat and her family comfort as they reunite and join them in praying for Aviv’s safety,” Courtney said in the release.

    Fischer said he had not heard anything about Atzili’s situation.

    “That’s going to be tough,” Fischer said. “All the men are going to be tough. I feel relief, but still sadness, because her husband is there, and so many other hostages are still there. And we’ve got to get them out.”

    c.bessette@theday.com

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