A New York college student has been captured by Hamas after war broke out between Israel and Gaza last weekend, according to a statement from his family.
Omer Neutra, an Israeli-American citizen born in New York, was captured by Hamas along the Israel-Gaza bordere on Oct. 10 while serving in the Israel Defense Force, his family said.
"He's a born leader and a great son, friend, and a passionate, giving person. After graduating high school, he decided to defer his college acceptance and spend a gap year in Israel connecting with our family's roots," Neutra's parents, Ronen and Orna Neutra, said in a statement posted to Facebook by the Plainview Volunteer Fire Department on Long Island. "This experience impacted his decision to stay in Israel and do what he believed in — serving and protecting the people of Israel."
His family added that Neutra was doing exactly that when Hamas captured him three days ago, and they have not heard from him since.
On Oct. 11, New York City Mayor Eric Adams met with Neutra's parents.
"The war hits home. Ronen and Orna of Long Island are waiting news on their son Omer, who was kidnapped by Hamas this weekend," the mayor said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "This fight is our fight. It just is. We #StandWithIsrael. And we must bring every hostage home."
The Neutras pleaded with Hamas leaders to treat their son and other hostages "in a humanitarian way in accordance with international law."
Neutra's parents described their son as "a fun-loving person, a huge sports enthusiast, epically of the Knicks," and a leader on school sports teams and in his youth group.
"Omer — we love you and we look forward to bringing you and the others home," they wrote.
Israel has reported more than 1,200 people dead and 3,200 injured since Hamas launched its attack against it on Saturday. The prime minister's office is also reporting more than 6,000 rockets have been launched toward Israel since Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Gaza Health Ministry said Friday that at least 1,799 Palestinians are dead and more than 6,300 are wounded in the Gaza Strip as Israel wages war against Hamas.
The World Health Organization has warning that the "health system in the Gaza Strip is at a breaking point" because hospitals only have access to "a few hours" of electricity each day.
"Time is running out to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe if fuel and life-saving health and humanitarian supplies cannot be urgently delivered to the Gaza Strip amidst the complete blockade," the organization said in a Thursday statement.