American-Israeli grandmother confirmed killed in Oct 7 Hamas attacks

Judy Weinstein ‘dedicated her life to serving others’ her family said after her death was confirmed

Bevan Hurley
Friday 29 December 2023 17:31 GMT
Netanyahu heckled by families of Hamas hostages during Knesset session

An American-Israeli grandmother previously thought to have been taken hostage by Hamas was confirmed to have died in the 7 October attacks, according to a statement from her kibbutz.

Judy Weinstein, 70, was “fatally wounded” on an early morning walk with her husband Gad Haggai, 73, near Kibbutz Nir Oz when Hamas militants burst across the border into Israel, killing about 1,200 people, the statement read.

Weinstein called emergency services to say she and her husband had been shot and the couple was believed to have been among the 240 hostages taken by Hamas to Gaza.

After her husband was confirmed to have been killed last week, Weinstein’s family expressed hope that she would be found alive.

On Thursday, Nir Oz announced with “great sorrow” that she had been killed during the terror attack. She and her husband’s bodies are still being held in Gaza.

Judy Weinstein, 70, with husband Gadi Haggai who also died in the 7 October attacks (Supplied)

Weinstein, who also held Canadian citizenship and was survived by her four children and seven grandchildren, was also a dedicated peace activist, Nir Oz said.

“Judy dedicated her life to serving others, spending years teaching English and using her passions for poetry, puppeteering, and mindfulness to empower children of all backgrounds,” her family said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

She also taught meditation techniques to children and teenagers who suffered anxiety due to rocket fire from Gaza, the kibbutz said.

Weinstein’s son Al Haggai told Israel’s Channel 13 after her death was confirmed that they had hoped her multiple citizenships would lead to her release.

President Joe Biden said in a statement he was “devastated” to learn of Weinstein’s death, after recently meeting with one of her daughters.

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict (REUTERS)

The hostages’ families have been “living through hell for weeks”, Mr Biden said. “No family should have to endure such an ordeal.”

Weinstein was born in New York before moving to Israel around 30 years ago.

Governor Kathy Hochul said in a post on X she was “heartbroken to learn” of her death.

“My heart is with her family abroad and those still here in New York. May her memory be a blessing and may the many hostages still in captivity be brought home safely.”

Around 240 people were believed to have been taken captive when Hamas launched its surprise attacks on 7 October.

More than 100 hostages, mostly women and children, were returned to Israel during a week-long ceasefire in November.

On 20 October, an American mother and daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, were the first to be released.

Days later, two elderly Israeli women, Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifschitz, 85, were also freed.

Then, last month, major movement began in the release of hostages when the Israeli government reached a ceasefire with Hamas.

As part of a week-long truce – brokered by the US, Qatar and Egypt – hostages were freed in exchange for a temporary pause on Israel’s offensive on Gaza to allow critical humanitarian aid trucks into the war-stricken area.

More than 21,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza since the start of the war – amounting to almost 1 per cent of the territory’s pre-war population – according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

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