Hamas Frees Two US Hostages

By Damilare Adeleye

Gaza’s Hamas rulers have released two Americans on Friday, The Nigerian Voice learnt.

The released victims were among some 200 hostages the group abducted in brutal October 7 attacks in Israel.

Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter Natalie Shoshana Raanan were back in Israel late Friday, the Israeli government said.

No details were given on their condition, but US President Joe Biden said he was “overjoyed” at the news. Biden spoke by phone to the two women after they were freed.

And Hamas said it was working with Qatar and Egypt to free its “civilian” hostages, in a sign that more releases could follow.

The pair were met at the Gaza border by an Israeli envoy and taken to a military base in central Israel “where their families were waiting to meet them”.

The American mother and daughter were seized from the Nahal Oz kibbutz near the Israel-Gaza border on October 7. They were reportedly on holiday in Israel at the time.

The Ranaan family, like those of many of the hostages, had launched an international campaign to press for efforts to bring them out of Gaza.

Ben Raanan, Natalie’s half-brother told the BBC of the “overwhelming sense of joy… and gratitude” at the news of their release.

He also thanked the “community around the world who have really put my sister at the forefront of their thoughts, of their prayers”.

Hamas said that after being approached by Qatar and Egypt, “(Ezzedine) al-Qassam Brigades released two American citizens for humanitarian reasons”.

Gaza’s Islamist rulers said they were “working with all mediators to implement the movement’s decision to close the civilian (hostage) file if appropriate security conditions allow”.

Israel says 203 people – Israelis, dual nationals and foreigners – were abducted by Hamas gunmen when they launched the deadliest attacks in Israel’s 75-year history. At least 1,400 people were killed, mostly civilians, according to the government.

Israel has responded with a relentless bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip that has left at least 4,137 people dead, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas administration.

The hostages have become a major issue in Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the government would use “any means available to locate all those missing and bring home all the kidnapped”.