Itay Chen, 19, American-Israeli Soldier Missing Since Oct. 7, Is Confirmed Dead by IDF


(JTA) March 13, 2024 — Israel’s military announced the death of an American-Israeli soldier who had been missing since Oct. 7, ending months of uncertainty during which his parents emerged as two of the most visible advocates for the more than 100 people still being held hostage by Hamas.

Itay Chen, 19, from Netanya, was killed and his body abducted following a battle with terrorists during the Hamas onslaught, the Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday, basing its conclusion on new intelligence information. Chen was a sergeant with the 7th Armored Brigade’s 75th Battalion, stationed on the Gaza border.

On March 7, his mother, Hagit Chen, was a guest of Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

Days after the Oct. 7 attacks, his father, Ruby Chen, an American-Israeli venture capitalist, and the relatives of 13 other Americans who were missing after the invasion, joined a video call with Biden. The native New Yorker has also lobbied lawmakers in Washington and New York, and diplomats at the United Nations, to urge pressure on Hamas for the release of hostages and information about their condition and whereabouts.

Itay Chen was one of six U.S. citizens still believed to be alive in Gaza more than five months after the attack.

“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 White House statement, recalling Ruby’s visit to the White House in December. “Today, as we join Itay’s parents, brothers, and family in grieving this tragic loss, we keep this reminder close to our hearts. And I reaffirm my pledge to all the families of those still held hostage: we are with you. We will never stop working to bring your loved ones home.”

Shortly after Oct. 7, Chen’s younger brother, Alon, celebrated his bar mitzvah in Netanya. Thousands of neighborhood residents came out to support the family .

Chen’s family will not hold a funeral or sit shiva, the traditional seven-day Jewish mourning period, until his body is returned from the Gaza Strip, the Times of Israel reported.

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