On Friday, Hamas released two American hostages, Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie Raanan, who had been held captive in Gaza for almost two weeks.
The mother and daughter were taken captive during the Oct. 7 attack by a Palestinian group in Israel, taking about 200 hostages and killing at least 1,400 people.
The Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, said they released the hostages for “humanitarian reasons” as the mother is in poor health, after negotiations in Qatar over their release between official mediators from the United States and Hamas.
Hamas spokesperson, Abu Obaida, said that they released the two American hostages “to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his administration are false and baseless.”
The two hostages were handed over to the Israel Defense forces to be reunited with their family after they were released to the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the Israeli Foreign Ministry in a statement.
“From the earliest moments of this attack, we have been working around-the-clock to free American citizens who were taken hostage by Hamas,” said US President Joe Biden.
There are still 10 other American hostages held by Hamas, according to the State Department, whom President Biden vows to reunite with their families. “As president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans held hostage around the world,” Mr. Biden said.
The Raanans are from Chicago and went to Israel to visit family and celebrate the Jewish holidays at a kibbutz in the South of Israel. Judith Raanan was born in Israel before settling in the U.S. to raise her family.
A number of other foreign nationals have been kidnapped by Hamas including people from the U.S., Mexico, Thailand and Brazil. However, information about the identity of these individuals remains scarce. The Israeli military believes that most of these captives are still alive.
Hamas says that it is working with mediators in Egypt, Qatar and other “friendly countries” to release foreign nationals, in a statement on Friday.
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