Hamas captors on Friday released a Chicago-area woman and her daughter held as hostages since the Palestinian militant group’s murderous rampage in Israel Oct. 7, the first Americans known to be released from an operation that killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17, have been moved from Gaza to Egypt in the custody of the Red Cross, Israel state-owned KAN11 News reported Friday.
Israeli officials estimate that Hamas still holds about 200 people, including some foreign nationals, as hostages from the attack. The militant group said only that the Ranaans had been released on “humanitarian” grounds.
They had come to Israel to celebrate the 85th birthday of Mrs. Ranaan’s mother. Mrs. Raanan and her daughter were among those taken from Nahal Oz, a kibbutz in southern Israel near Gaza, according to KAN11.
Mrs. Ranaan is an aesthetician and her daughter graduated from high school in the spring.
Members of the family met with President Biden and other U.S. officials last week, who confirmed that the two women had been taken hostage by Hamas, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, executive director of the Chabad of Evanston, told the newspaper that his own sources in Israel had confirmed the Ranaans had been handed over to the Red Cross.
“The fact that they’re being released is unbelievable,” the rabbi said. “Our prayers worked. While it’s a huge relief, there are still hundreds of other hostages who also need to be released.”