Emotional moment Illinois mom and daughter taken hostage by Hamas hug relatives after being freed following 13 day ordeal
- Hamas on Friday it released two US nationals – Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie Shoshana Raanan, 17 – for ‘humanitarian reasons’
- An image of the two embracing family members after their 13 ordeal has now been shared on social media
- Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said he is unable to confirm further details of the other 10 hostages kidnapped by Hamas
An Illinois mom and daughter who had been taken hostage by Hamas have been pictured hugging relatives after being freed following a 13 day ordeal.
Natalie Shoshana Raanan, 17, and her mother Judith Tai Raanan, 59, arrived back in Israel late on Friday, having left Gaza via an Egyptian-controlled crossing.
The pair got out of Gaza without obvious injuries, exiting a car before being surrounded by ICRC staff wearing vests bearing the red cross.
In a post to social media, the mother and daughter are seen tightly hugging relatives including Judith’s sister and mother.
The Governor of Illinois said on Friday night that the two are now receiving medical treatment without providing any details of their condition.
The Raanans walked out of Gaza without obvious injuries, they are seen here embracing relatives after their ordeal
An image of the two being taken back into Israel was shared by authorities in the area, with the pair surrounded by armed soldiers
Following the release of Natalie, her brother, Ben, joked that he was ‘annoyed’ because she still looked ‘like a supermodel’, despite her ordeal.
‘She’s doing good. She’s doing very good,’ said Uri Raanan, 71, who lives in the Chicago suburbs, adding that they did not discuss where she was held or her conditions in captivity.
‘She did not tell me anything. But she told me they treat her nice, and she was doing very good.
‘I’m going to hug her and kiss her, and it’s going to be the best day of my life.’
Raanan also said that he expected both of them to be back in the U.S. early next week.
He described the last 13 days as ‘the worst situation’ adding that he had been kept in the dark by their captors.
Raanan said: ‘I did not sleep at night and my head was always in Israel. Lots of phone calls, lots of TV. I’ve been glued to the tv for two weeks, hoping for good news – and finally it came.’
He added: ‘I did not lose hope. Praying, and just waiting for this moment.’
An image of the two being taken back into Israel was shared by authorities in the area, with the pair surrounded by armed soldiers.
Natalie Raanan and her mother Judith are seen speaking to Joe Biden, in a photo released on Friday night by the US embassy in Israel
Natalie Raanan and her father, Uri Raanan, are pictured in Mexico. He said on Friday she was doing well, despite her ordeal
Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State, said Hamas is still feared to be holding 10 Americans hostage.
The Secretary of State revealed the number still missing during a press conference in which he announced the release of Judith and Natalie Raanan.
President Biden said he was ‘overjoyed’ by the women’s release and that he was continuing to work to free other captured Americans.
Blinken said he had no further information to offer on the ‘status or condition’ of the Americans still believed to be in Hamas custody following the October 7 terror attacks.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said: ‘Two of our abducted are home.
‘We are not giving up the effort to bring all of the hostages and missing people home. At the same time, we are continuing to fight until victory.’
Martin Fletcher, one of MSNBC’s Middle East correspondents, broke down on air, revealing that Judith and Natalie are members of his wife’s family.
Fletcher said on Thursday: ‘They were last seen, their hands tied, being dragged away by the Hamas terrorists.
‘So it’s personal, it’s real, and nobody is really confident that it’s possible to get them back alive. Of course, everybody’s hoping.’
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising over the norther-western part of the Palestinian enclave during an Israeli bombing on October 21, 2023
Israeli Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Israel, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023
Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, said the two were released ‘for humanitarian reasons’.
In a defiant statement, Abu Ubaida said the move would ‘prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.’
Israel responded to the Hamas massacre and hostage crisis by pounding Gaza with air strikes, killing more than 4,100 people according to Hamas, and has said it will act to free the hostages while wiping out the terror group.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians attacked in the October 7 incursion.
Earlier today, the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into Palestine for the first time since Israel sealed it off.
Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount that aid workers said was insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
More than 200 trucks carrying roughly 3,000 tons of aid have been positioned near the crossing for days.
Trucks with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip enter from Egypt
Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, half of whom have fled their homes, are rationing food and drinking dirty water.
Hospitals say they are running low on medical supplies and fuel for emergency generators amid a territory-wide power blackout.
Israel’s military spokesman said the country planned to step up its attacks starting Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas.
Asked about a possible ground invasion, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand.
‘We will deepen our attacks to minimise the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks, from today,’ he said, repeating his call for residents of Gaza City to head south for their safety.
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