Transcript: Hanna Siegel on "Face the Nation," April 28, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Hanna Siegel, whose uncle Keith Siegel is being held hostage by Hamas, that aired on April 28, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We are joined now by Hanna Siegel, whose uncle, Keith Siegel, is one of those American hostages. Good morning to you, Hanna.

HANNA SIEGEL: Good morning, Margaret. Thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for speaking to us. I know that the Biden administration has reached out to you and your family. The FBI is analyzing that video released yesterday. What stood out to you? I think this is the first proof of life so far? 

HANNA SIEGEL: We- we’ve always believed that he’s alive, we have to believe that he’s alive. And his wife, my aunt, Aviva Siegel, who was held for 52 days, released in the deal that took place in November, she was with him. And so we knew when she came out, she told us that he was alive. But this is the first time that we’re seeing him, that we’re hearing him. It’s- it’s surreal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have 205 there. That’s the number of days he has been held. In the video, your uncle, under duress, mentions the protests that have been taking place in Israel, pressuring the government for a deal. Do you think that a deal can be reached at this point, and is it up to the United States to close it?

HANNA SIEGEL: I do think a deal can be reached. I mean, we- we know that. A deal was reached in November. Dozens of women and children were released, including my aunt, Aviva Siegel. So we know that it’s possible. And I do think that’s really important to remember. The United States plays a critical role. It played a critical role in November. I think, you know, ultimately, this is a negotiation between Hamas and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel. And one of the things that really worries my family, and worries me, is that it’s arguably not in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s political interest to close a deal. And, you know, for us, this is the moment. These videos- as you know, there was a video released a couple of days ago of another American hostage, Hersh Goldberg-Polin. I do think that these two videos are a signal from Hamas that they are ready to make a deal and a reminder that there are American citizens being held, including- including Keith.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are 133 hostages that we know of, five of them Americans. Why do you believe it is not in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s interest to cut a deal to bring them home?

HANNA SIEGEL: I think, you know, there is a lot swirling in the political landscape in Israel. And I’m not here to talk about that. But there have been negotiations going on for months now. We’re at 205 days. There have been deals on the table. And they’ve proven elusive. And I worry that that is because of Prime Minister Netanyahu. So I think that now is the moment. I think- I have faith that we can do a deal now. But I also think that if that isn’t possible, then the Biden administration should think about what they can do directly to bring our American citizens home. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is flying to the region now and is going to talk about a ceasefire and a hostage deal. Do you know if the Biden administration is considering making a deal to bring the Americans home without the Israeli government’s approval or role here? 

HANNA SIEGEL: I don’t know. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you want them to look at that option?

HANNA SIEGEL: What I know is that the Biden administration has shown unwavering and relentless commitment to my family and the families of all of the hostages. And I know that it is their priority to bring all hostages, including the Americans, home. And so I know that they are doing absolutely everything that they can. Keith in this video, I mean, he starts the video by saying how much he loves us. He loves our family. And he’s obviously under duress. He’s gaunt. He looks weak. But that’s real. I know that he misses his family. He talks about, you know, I think the hardest part of the video is he breaks down talking about being alone on Passover. Those of us Siegels in America got together for Passover and those in Israel got together for Passover. And we had- we had this little picture of Keith at the table, but he’s not home. And so I have such faith, and I have felt the commitment from the Biden administration, to get him back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Keith’s daughter sent a recorded message to protesters who were in the streets in Israel last night and she said, “I demand the country’s leaders watch the video and see their father crying for help.” Hamas released this as propaganda. Why do you think watching that video is important? What- what do you think is not understood by the government?

HANNA SIEGEL: First of all, my cousins, Keith’s kids and his wife, of course a hostage survivor herself, are incredibly brave and they have spent every single day going to anybody who will listen around the world and telling them, reminding them, that there are people’s lives at stake. I think there’s so much swirling in the political realm that it’s easy to forget that these are human beings. Keith is a grandfather. He’s a husband, he’s a brother. He’s an uncle. We’re a very, very close family. And that’s what we’re feeling, more than any of the political considerations, more than thinking about the day after and what happens. Those are really, really important questions. But I think this video is a reminder that these are human beings and they need to come home.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. says Hamas is standing in the way of a deal. Are you concerned that if an invasion of southern Gaza, of Rafah, happens, that your uncle will be at risk of death? 

HANNA SIEGEL: Very concerned. I mean he- he talks in the video about bomb- hearing bombs all around him. And so we worry about the fact that he’s being held underground by a terrorist group, of course. We worry about the fact that he’s starving. When Aviva came out, she talked to us about how they were beginning to starve. And I can’t imagine that that hasn’t gotten so much worse. You can see it on his face. And we also worry about the bombs going off around him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Of course. Of course. Hanna, thank you for reminding us about the humanity here. And we wish you luck.

HANNA SIEGEL: Thank you so much for having me.

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