Natalie Raanan (19, right) and Judith Raanan (59, left), the American hostages released by Hamas. (Image Credits: Google Images)

Hamas releases two American hostages as tensions continue with Israel

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A mother-daughter duo from Chicago, USA, who were captured by Hamas militants during the October 7th attack on Israel, have been released. They were being held in Gaza and their release was secured through Qatar’s mediation after a deal was brokered by the nation’s representatives.

Judith Raanan (59) and her daughter Natalie (17) were met by Israeli security forces after being transferred past the Rafah crossing into Egypt. This information was relayed to the international media by way of a statement from the Israel’s Office of the Prime Minister.

The women also hold Israeli citizenships and were taken to a military base to be reunited with their family.

They were caught at Nahal Oz kibbutz, 2 kms from Gaza, when Hamas broke past border defenses killing 1400 people, mostly civilians. Hamas also took 200 hostages during the attack, due to which Israel retaliated by conducting offensive maneuvers into Gaza.

The ladies had travelled to Israel for a holiday and also to celebrate the 85th birthday of their relative, according to rabbi Meir Hecht.

Natalie’s father Uri told sources that he had managed to speak to his daughter on Friday and expressed his relief, while trying to hold back tears of joy.

According to Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida the hostages were released solely on the basis of Qatar’s mediation, “for humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by [President Joe] Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless”

POTUS on the other hand, payed little attention to the Hamas representative’s statement, focusing on the safety of the ladies released, as well as the scores of hostages who are still being held.

“Jill and I have been holding close in our hearts all the families of unaccounted-for Americans. And, as I told those families when I spoke with them last week, we will not stop until we get their loved ones home” Biden stated.

Qatar voiced its concern with regard to the conflict and added that it would continue to act as a mediator. Their immediate aim being, to secure the release of all hostages, but in the long term, “with the ultimate aim of de-escalating the current crisis and restoring peace”

Red Cross has also thrown its hat in, after contributing in this particular case. The organisation has clarified that it seeks to be of service in the release of other hostages as well.

According to reports, Natalie (17) was released just days before her 18th birthday and is known for her keen interest in fashion.

The family have been in constant touch with President Biden, who openly stated during his trip to Israel that his top priority was the release of US citizens being held by Hamas.

Out of the 203 hostages taken by Hamas, 13 are American. Following the release of Natalie and her mother, the number has come down to 11.

As of now, there is no clarity on whether other hostages will be released as well or why the Raanans were the first ones to be released.

Hamas issued a statement on Monday in which the Israeli hostages were termed as “guests” who would be released as the situation on the ground became more favorable.

The list is not limited to Israel and the United States though. Germany, France, Portugal, UK, Thailand and Argentina have also spoken up for their citizens who are being held hostage as well.

Qatar has also been approached by Britain’s diplomats to help ensure the safe return of their citizens. Hamas’s claim that more than 20 hostages lost their lives in airstrikes has not been confirmed.

Netanyahu’s decision to forgo securing the release of hostages, in the pursuit of striking back at Hamas operatives has received some condemnation. The release of two hostages is likely to set in motion a long line of demands for the PM to pursue hostage release with a renewed focus.