A US national, Natalie Raanan, who was released by Hamas after several weeks of captivity in Gaza has arrived back in Chicago, The Times of Israel reported. Raanan and her mother Judith Tai Raanan, both US citizens who were held in captivity by Hamas terrorists during the Israel-Hamas war, were released on October 21. According to their family, the pair had been visiting relatives in Nahal Oz, a farming community in southern Israel, when Hamas attacked on October 7. They were released as part of negotiations involving Qatar and Hamas, reported CNN.
Israel Consul General to the Midwest Yinam Cohen took on ‘X’, stating, “Her family members have been anxiously waiting for her return, and today I am sharing their happiness.” Meanwhile, he also expressed grief as Hamas still continues to hold over 200 hostages, including babies, children, women and the elderly. “While we’re celebrating Natalie’s return, we remember the 239 hostages, among them babies, children, women, and the elderly, who are still held by Hamas in Gaza,” he added.
Judith did not return to the US with her daughter on Monday, and is still with family in Israel, according to the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest. During a press briefing, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed gratitude to the Qatar government for their assistance. “I want to thank the government of Qatar for their very important assistance. When I was in Israel last week, I met with the families of US citizens that Hamas has taken hostage,” Blinken said.
The White House also issued a statement on Friday, confirming the release of the Americans who were taken hostage by Hamas during the horrific terrorist assault against Israel on October 7. “Our fellow citizens have endured a terrible ordeal these past 14 days, and I am overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family, who has been wracked with fear. These individuals and their families will have the full support of the United States government as they recover and heal, and we should all respect their privacy in this moment,” the White House statement said.
Moreover, it added that the US has been working around the clock since the beginning of the attack to free American citizens who were taken hostage by the Hamas terror group. US President Joe Biden on Sunday held a telephonic conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed ongoing efforts to locate and secure the release of hostages, including American citizens who remain unaccounted for and may be held by Hamas.