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Father of freed US hostage say she is ‘doing good’ following her release from Hamas captivity

todayOctober 21, 2023 2

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Father of freed US hostage say she is ‘doing good’ following her release from Hamas captivity

The father of freed American hostage Natalie Raanan says she’s doing well following her two weeks in captivity after she and her mother were abducted in Israel by Hamas.

Uri Raanan of Evanston, Illinois, told reporters he had spoken to his 17-year-old daughter Natalie on the phone.

“She’s doing good. She’s doing very good,” he said.

“I’m in tears, and I feel very, very good.”

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The 71-year-old said he saw on the news that an American mother and daughter would be released by Hamas, and he spent all Friday hoping that meant his daughter Natalie and his ex-wife, Judith.

Knowing Natalie may be able to celebrate her 18th birthday next week at home with family and friends feels “wonderful… the best news”, he said.

“I’m going to hug her it will be the best day of my life.”

This photo provided by the Raanan family shows Natalie Raanan and her father, Uri Raanan, in Mexico.  The Israeli government said Hamas militants on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, freed two Americans -- Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie, who had been held hostage in Gaza since militants rampaged through Israel two weeks ago. The pair, who also hold Israeli citizenship, were the first hostages to be released of the roughly 200 abducted.  (Courtesy of the Raanan family via AP)

Image:
Natalie with her father, Uri Raanan

He added that he believes Natalie and Judith, 59, are making their way to Tel Aviv to reunite with relatives, and that both will be back in the US early next week.

US President Joe Biden also celebrated the news that the Raanans had been freed.

“I am overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family, who has been wracked with fear,” Mr Biden said in Washington.

The president also spoke with Judith and Natalie and “relayed that they will have the full support of the US government as they recover from this terrible ordeal”, the White House said.

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An Israeli army spokesman said the two Americans were out of the Gaza Strip and with the Israeli military.

Hamas said they released them for humanitarian reasons in an agreement with the Qatari government.

They were the first hostages to be released since Hamas militants abducted around 200 people during their rampage on 7 October.

Natalie Raanan and her dog in Chicago. Pic: AP

Image:
Natalie and her dog in Chicago. Pic: AP

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The International Committee of the Red Cross, which transported the Raanans from Gaza to Israel, said their release offered “a sliver of hope” for those still being held.

Judith and Natalie had left their home in the Chicago suburb of Evanston to travel to Israel to celebrate the Jewish holidays, according to family members.

On 7 October they were in Nahal Oz, near Gaza, for the holiday Simchat Torah, when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israeli towns, killing and abducting hundreds of people.

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Two US hostages freed by Hamas

Their family had heard nothing from them since the attack and were later told by US and Israeli officials that they were being held in Gaza, Natalie’s brother Ben Raanan told the Denver Post earlier this week.

Natalie loves art, makeup, fashion, and DoorDash – “she hates eating at home”, according to Ben, who is based in Denver, Colorado.

She graduated from high school this year and was deciding between going to college to study interior or fashion design and taking an apprenticeship with a tattoo shop.

Qatar said it would continue its dialogue with Israel and Hamas in hopes of winning the release of all hostages “with the ultimate aim of de-escalating the current crisis and restoring peace”.

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Mother of hostage: ‘I miss her’

The release comes amid growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says is aimed at rooting out Hamas militants who rule Gaza.

In a statement issued late on Friday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Two of our abductees are at home. We are not giving up on the effort to return all abducted and missing people.”

“At the same time, we’ll continue to fight until victory,” he added.

Written by: Newsroom

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