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Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen has been released by Hamas but her husband remains captive

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A second U.S. citizen has gone free from Hamas captivity as a truce continues in the war between Israel and Hamas. Liat Beinin Atzili and her husband were seized from their kibbutz in Southern Israel on October 7. Now she's coming home, although her husband Aviv is still being held hostage. Boaz Atzili is Aviv's cousin and also a professor at American University here in Washington, D.C. He spoke with NPR last week and is now back on the line. Good morning, sir.

BOAZ ATZILI: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: You must be relieved, at least, to have one person home. How is Liat doing as far as you know?

ATZILI: Yeah. I'm immensely relieved that Liat is home. That's such good news. She's doing physically OK as far as...

INSKEEP: When you say physically OK, it does raise the question of how you think she's doing otherwise.

ATZILI: Really, I don't know yet. She's in the hospital. She met by her parents and her children. So we're still waiting to see. I don't want to pry too much.

INSKEEP: How many children does she have?

ATZILI: She has three children. They are young adults.

INSKEEP: Had they been present at the time of the October 7 attack and their mother being taken hostage?

ATZILI: Two of them were present, not in the same house. They have their own apartment in which they were holding the handle to the safe room for many hours.

INSKEEP: What have the last several weeks been like for you and for other people related to her? Did you have no news whatsoever of her condition, even any knowledge of whether she was alive or dead until she appeared?

ATZILI: Yes. We had no news of her condition. Their house was burned, so we were extremely worried. We still are extremely worried about Aviv and the other hostages, but we had no news at all. So when we heard that she's on the list of released, that was a big, big relief.

INSKEEP: What do you make of this fact that she has walked free but her husband is still apparently somewhere in Gaza?

ATZILI: Yeah. That's the situation with so many families here. You know, children that were released, but their father is still in Gaza, wives that were released, but their husband is still in Gaza. We have so many, like, torn families like that.

INSKEEP: We have heard from a number of Israelis who had family members taken hostage who said this shakes my faith in Israel's government. And even saying what's the point of Israel if our people cannot be protected? What are your family members saying now that people are beginning to come out about their feelings about this conflict and about the government's performance?

ATZILI: So I can only speak for myself. And obviously, the - October 7, that it happened, is an immense failure on so many levels by the Israeli government. And right now, it's extremely hard to imagine a way out of this. Both sides, as far as I'm concerned, have lost the war already. The question is how to get from all that suffering to a path that leads to hope rather than more suffering, and that requires a lot of political courage. And I'm not sure either sides have this courage right now.

INSKEEP: Boaz Atzili, his cousin Aviv is presumed to be held by Hamas in Gaza although Aviv's wife, Liat, was released from captivity. Thank you so much.

ATZILI: Thank you. And I hope all of them come back home as soon as possible.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEIL COWLEY AND BEN LUKAS BOYSEN'S "ASCENT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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