Biden ‘devastated’ by death of American IDF soldier

‘We are with you. We will never stop working to bring your loved ones home,’ Biden promised.

By Debbie Weiss, The Algemeiner

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday confirmed the death of Israeli-American 19-year-old Sgt. Itay Chen, who was murdered on Oct. 7 and whose body was taken by Hamas into Gaza.

US President Joe Biden said that he was “devastated” to learn about Chen’s death.

Recent intelligence showed that Chen was killed during a battle with Hamas terrorists near the border with Gaza and that his body was later seized from the Nahal Oz base where he served.

Chen’s death has now been officially recognized by the Israeli army’s chief rabbi, but his family has chosen to postpone the shiva mourning period and wait for the return of his remains, which are still being held by Hamas.

Chen’s last contact with his family was at 6:30 am on Oct. 7, when he updated them that the base was under attack. He was initially categorized as missing, but within days it was confirmed that he had been taken, along with 253 others, into Gaza.

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His father, New York native Rubi Chen, emerged as a leading voice among the hostages’ families around the world early on in the Israel-Hamas war and has met with Biden and senior US officials.

Biden on Tuesday recalled a visit by Chen and his brother, Alon, at the White House on Hanukkah.

“Itay’s father and brother joined me at the White House, to share the agony and uncertainty they’ve faced as they prayed for the safe return of their loved one,” he said.

“No one should have to endure even one day of what they have gone through. At the end of our meeting, they gave me a menorah — a solemn reminder that light will always dispel the darkness, and evil will not win.”

Biden reiterated his commitment to return all the hostages still in Gaza after being kidnapped on Oct. 7.

“We are with you. We will never stop working to bring your loved ones home,” Biden promised.

The first time Biden spoke with the older Chen was five days after his son’s abduction during a video meeting together with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in Israel at the time.

The Algemeiner spoke with Chen shortly after that meeting about an upcoming bar mitzvah for Alon, his youngest son. Chen extended an open invitation to all who wanted to attend the celebration on the upcoming Saturday.

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“Our youngest son deserves to have a happy bar mitzvah. It’s pretty simple. So we put that [horror] aside for a couple of hours and we have the embrace of our community.”

Asked if he was concerned about an impending ground invasion by Israeli forces, Chen, a venture capitalist, said that it was “sadly ironic” that he held onto the hope that the hostages were being used as human shields and that the more prized the hostage — his son, being an American, falling in that category — the higher his chances of survival.

“These animals that took Holocaust survivors and children, they know they need to take care of themselves. It’s basic instinct. They need to surround themselves with people to be human shields,” he told The Algemeiner.

“The top [terrorists] are in underground bunkers keeping the hostages, and especially dual citizens, close to them.”

Beyond the kidnappings, Hamas terrorists also murdered 1,200 people during their Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel, sparking the war in Gaza.