In an incident that unfolded during the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, a mother and daughter from Chicago were taken hostage and held in Gaza. The Israeli military has identified them as Judith Raanan, believed to be in her 60s, and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie, who were visiting family in a Kibbutz near the Gaza Strip. Tragically, the October 7 attack resulted in the abduction of approximately 200 individuals and the loss of 1,400 lives, prompting a forceful Israeli military response against Gaza.
On Friday, October 20, President Joe Biden officially announced the successful release of the mother and daughter, highlighting the tireless efforts of the US government to secure the freedom of American citizens held captive by Hamas. Following their release, they were brought to an Israeli military base to reunite with their relieved relatives. Natalie’s father, Uri, shared his emotional account of speaking to his daughter over the phone, expressing immense happiness and gratitude for her safe return.
According to Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida, the hostages were released in response to Qatari mediation efforts. The release was motivated by humanitarian reasons, as well as the intention to refute the claims made by President Biden and his administration, which Hamas deemed false and baseless, as reported by the Associated Press.
President Biden conveyed his relief and joy at the release, acknowledging the harrowing 14-day ordeal endured by fellow citizens and emphasizing his unwavering dedication to the safety of Americans held captive worldwide. Qatar’s foreign ministry confirmed that the release was the result of persistent communication with all parties involved.
This release marks the first hostage liberation since Hamas’ surprise assault, which inflicted devastation on communities across southern Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of approximately 1,400 lives, predominantly civilians.