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2 American Hostages Held Captive In Hamas Attack, Finally Freed

2 American hostages held since Hamas attack on Israel released: IDF.

The long nightmare in captivity for two of the hostages taken by Hamas during its deadly surprise attack on Israel has ended, Israeli authorities said.

Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter, Natalie Raanan, 17, were released by Hamas to the Red Cross and are now back in Israel, Israel Defense Forces said.

Their conditions were not immediately clear.

The Raanans are from Illinois. Ben Raanan, the brother of Natalie Raanan and son of Judith Raanan, said his mom and sister were in Israel for a relative’s birthday when they were taken hostage.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the hostages were received “at the border of the Gaza Strip” and were being taken to “a meeting point at a military base in the center of the country, where their family members are waiting for them.”

He added, “The Government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security establishment will continue to operate with the best of their abilities and efforts in order to locate all the missing and return the abductees are all home.”

Hamas said in a statement that the hostages, a mother and daughter who are both Americans, were released “for humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it helped facilitate the release of the hostages by transporting them from Gaza to Israel.

“The release of two hostages in Gaza today is a sliver of hope. We are extremely relieved that these two families can now be reunited after two weeks of agony,” said ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric.

President Joe Biden in a statement said he was “overjoyed” at the news of the Raanans’ release and thanked the governments of Qatar and Israel for their partnerships in securing their release.

“Jill and I have been holding close in our hearts all the families of unaccounted for Americans. And, as I told those families when I spoke with them last week—we will not stop until we get their loved ones home,” Biden said.

The White House said later in the evening that the president spoke with the Raanans over the phone.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that a team from the U.S. embassy will see the Raanans shortly.

“Over the coming hours, they’ll receive any support and assistance that they need. And of course, we’re very anxious to be able to reunite them with their loved ones,” he told reporters.

Jeff Woodke, who was released by Al Qaida earlier this year after six and a half years of captivity, told ABC News that the Raanans will go through a strict agenda before they can return home.

First, they will have to undergo a medical evaluation, then they will have time to talk to their families, Woodke said. After that, they will be debriefed by intelligence officials and then sent home, he said.

“It might be an opportunity to do story-telling, during which will help agents pick up as many details as they can,” Woodke said.

Ten Americans remain unaccounted for, and some of them are among the estimated 200 people being held by Hamas, Blinken said Friday.

Hamas militants took hundreds of captives during their Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israel after they breached the security barriers separating Gaza and Israel. Hamas militants fired thousands of rockets and indiscriminately gunned down soldiers and civilians caught off guard by the early morning attack.

Many of the hostages were young Israelis who were snatched at an all-night music festival celebrating the end of the Sukkot Jewish holiday.

The militants killed 260 festivalgoers, according to Israeli rescue service Zaka.

The release of the hostages Friday came after President Joe Biden traveled to Israel on Oct. 18 and said in a public address that he had requested that “the global community demand that the International Red Cross be able to visit hostages.”

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