Two young adult American brothers and their Canadian father were detained by Israeli forces in an overnight raid on their home in Gaza, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.
Borak Alagha, 18, and Hashem Alagha, 20 — two brothers born in the suburbs of Chicago — were taken around 5 a.m. Gaza time Thursday when Israeli forces entered their family home in al-Muwasi, a community near the southern city of Khan Younis, the brothers’ cousin Yasmeen Elagha confirmed to The Associated Press.
Elagha said Israeli forces tied up and blindfolded the women and children in the family and brought them outside of the home and the brothers, their Canadian citizen father, their mentally disabled uncle and two other adult male relatives were taken away and are still missing, the news wire reported.
Men in a nearby household were also detained along with other adult male relatives of another Alagha household, the cousin told the AP.
A family social media account detailed the incident and claimed 20 members of the Alagha family were taken during Thursday morning’s raid.
Elagha, in a separate interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, she received a call from her aunt — the brothers’ mother — who was “hysterically” crying and told her Israeli soldiers “basically broke their door down” while the family was asleep.
“The soldiers fully destroyed the house on the inside, they broke down the doors, they slashed the tires on their cars so they have no mode of transportation,” Elagha told the Sun-Times. “And they threw the women and the children outside of the home so they had to be untied by their neighbors when they discovered them.”
The State Department told the Sun-Times officials are “aware” of the situation and “seeking additional information.”
The Hill reached out to the State Department for further comment.
Elagha said the brothers had been approved by U.S. officials for evacuation but no exit had been facilitated, the Sun-Times reported.
The brothers’ detentions make them the second and third American citizens to be detained by Israeli forces this week.
The family of 46-year-old Samaher Esmail, a Palestinian-American woman, said she was reportedly taken after Israeli forces broke into her home and pulled her from her bed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the AP reported. The family said Tuesday they had no idea where she was, nearly two days after she was detained.
U.S. officials said they have assisted about 1,300 Americans, green-card holders and eligible relatives in leaving Gaza since Oct. 7, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas killed around 1,200 people, mostly women and children, in Israel.
Israel responded with a bombardment of Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007. Hamas is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. More than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since early October, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken departed the Middle East later on Thursday after a four-nation Mideast trip, where he continued negotiations on the framework of a deal to pause fighting between Israel and Hamas, secure the release of more than 100 Israeli hostages and boost the humanitarian aid going to civilians in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’s proposal for a multi-stage cease-fire over 4.5 months and called it “delusional.” He vowed Israel would continue its military operation in the Gaza Strip until it reached “absolute victory.”