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Family seeks answers a week after 2 US citizens taken by IDF in Gaza

A week after two Palestinian American brothers were detained during a raid in Gaza, their cousin in the U.S. says she has no info on their location.
Family seeks answers a week after 2 US citizens taken by IDF in Gaza
Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 18:09:06-05

One week of silence.

Yasmeen Elagha, a Chicago law student, says it's been one week of silence since her two Palestinian American cousins in Gaza were taken by Israel Defense Forces during a raid on their makeshift home in Khan Younis. "They threw all of the women and children outside of the home tied up, and they slashed the tires of the cars, and they disappeared with the two American cousins and the rest of the men," said Elagha, who got a call from her crying aunt in Gaza shortly after the raid. The Northwestern University law student says she has “desperately been trying to reach the U.S. government for any kind of update” and has heard nothing from U.S. and Israeli officials about the well-being and whereabouts of her two Palestinian cousins, who are brothers and are also U.S. citizens. “We have been trying desperately to understand why they were taken," she said. 

Brothers 18-year-old Borak Alagha and 20-year-old Hashem Alagha were born and raised in the Chicago area before moving to Canada and eventually Gaza to live with Palestinian relatives. Yasmeen had been trying to secure their evacuations from Gaza since the beginning of the war, out of fear of their safety – even suing top U.S. officials in December for their alleged lack of support. "Every time they went to the border, they were denied," Yasmeen said. 

A source inside the Israeli government told Scripps News, without providing details or evidence, that the two brothers were detained and questioned by the Israel Defense Forces because “they are suspected of assisting senior Hamas officials during the war.” A State Department spokesperson told us they are "seeking more information from the government of Israel," adding that "our commitment to providing all possible consular assistance to U.S. citizens is unwavering." 

Meanwhile, Yasmeen Elagha is working on a new lawsuit against the Biden administration to help secure the release of her cousins, with the help of immigration lawyer Maria Kari. "There is a protocol that unfolds when Americans are wrongfully detained in a foreign country. And to date, we have not seen that protocol followed,” said Kari, adding that she categorically rejects allegations that the brothers have ties to Hamas and that Israel is using such claims “as an indiscriminate catch-all.”  

For Yasmeen Elagha, there's no rest until she is reunited with her cousins in the United States. "I will not give up until my family is all back home safely," she said. 

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