Hamas released two hostages, a mother and daughter, on Friday for what the terror organization referred to as “humanitarian reasons.” The terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip said its aim was “to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”
On Friday afternoon, U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement taking credit for the development, and thanking “the government of Qatar and the government of Israel for their partnership in this work.”
“Today, we have secured the release of two Americans taken hostage by Hamas during the horrific terrorist assault against Israel on Oct. 7,” Biden stated. “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 family 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,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two discussed “ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas—including U.S. citizens—and to provide for safe passage for U.S. citizens and other civilians in Gaza,” per a White House readout.
Netanyahu’s office released a statement on Friday noting that “Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter Natalie Shoshana Raanan were released by the terrorist organization Hamas.” The two were kidnapped on Oct. 7 when they were staying as guests in Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Gal Hirsch, coordinator for the captives and missing, the Israel Defense Forces and security forces received the mother and daughter “at the border of the Gaza Strip, and the two are now on their way to a meeting point in an army base in central Israel, where their families are waiting to reunite with them,” per Netanyahu’s office.
“The government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security apparatus will continue to do all they can, using any means available, to locate all those missing and bring home all the kidnapped,” it added.
The two hostages were held in the Gaza Strip since Hamas conducted its Oct. 7 cross-border invasion of southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 people, with thousands wounded and recovering in hospitals throughout the Jewish state.
As part of its terrorist activities that day, Hamas took as many as 200 men, women and children captive, dragging them to Gaza.
Biden and other world leaders have called for Hamas to release all of the captives immediately.
The International Red Cross confirmed that the two were released.
Israeli media identified them as Judith Raanan, 59, and Natalie Raanan, 17, who are dual Israeli-American citizens. Authorities have notified their family of their pending return to Israel via Egypt.
Hamas reportedly freed the pair due to the mother’s declining health.
Hebrew-language media, citing Israeli officials, reported that Hamas released the hostages without any quid pro quo from Jerusalem.
“The continued holding of hostages is a war crime,” said an Israel-based group advocating on behalf of the families of captives. “We call on world leaders and the international community to exert their full power in order to act for the release of all the hostages and missing.”
The Israel Defense Forces has informed 203 families that their loved ones have been kidnapped and taken to Gaza. The military also stressed that the situation is complex and some may have been killed.
Among the kidnapped are some 20 to 30 children and 10 to 20 people over the age of 60. Hostages include citizens of eight or nine countries in addition to Israel.
On Monday, Hamas released a video purportedly showing one of the Israeli abductees.
“I’m Mia Shem, 21 years old from Shoham. Currently, I’m in Gaza. I returned early Saturday morning from Sderot—I was at a party. I was seriously injured in my hand,” the woman says. She calls on Israel to “get me out of here as soon as possible.”
Shem was kidnapped while taking part in a music festival in the desert near Kibbutz Re’im, where Hamas gunmen also massacred at least 260 festival-goers.
Families of the captives have expressed anger at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approval on Wednesday of humanitarian aid deliveries of water, food and medicine to Gaza through Egypt.