On Friday, October 20, 2023, Israel released two American citizens, Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Raanan, who had been held in Gaza for two weeks.
Their release was secured for “humanitarian reasons” through Qatari mediation efforts, as announced by Hamas.
This event has drawn attention not only for the relief and joy it brought to their family but also because it highlights a larger issue: the captivity of more Americans in Gaza.
President Biden, upon learning of the release of Judith and Natalie, expressed his happiness and relief, tweeting a video of his conversation with the two women.
In a statement, he acknowledged that there are additional Americans who remain captive in Gaza.
“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,” the president said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an interview on NBC News, emphasised the urgency of securing the release of these American captives in Gaza.
“We’re hopeful that more [will be] released. But the bottom line is this: They need to be released. Each and every one of them. Now. Unconditionally,” Blinken stated. His words reflect the determination of the US government to bring all its citizens back home safely.
Natalie’s father, Uri Raanan, expressed his joy and relief upon hearing the news that an American mother and daughter would be released by Hamas, with hope in his heart that this mother and daughter were none other than his ex-wife Judith and his daughter Natalie.
When asked about Natalie’s condition, he mentioned that she was doing very well.
The prospect of Natalie being able to celebrate her 18th birthday next week at home with family and friends fills him with an overwhelming sense of joy. He described it as “wonderful… the best news.”
This heartwarming insight into the family’s experience highlights the immense relief and happiness that this release has brought to those who were waiting anxiously for their loved ones to come home.
The Israeli Army announced this Sunday that there are now 212 hostages confirmed to be in the hands of Hamas. This ongoing situation highlights the urgency of securing the release of all those who are still held in captivity.
Around the world, there has been a strong outpouring of support for the safe return of these hostages.
A pro-Israel demonstration has been taking place this weekend in London’s Trafalgar Square. Protesters held up photos of the missing individuals, and their names are being solemnly read out from the steps of the National Gallery.
This global solidarity reflects the deep concern for the well-being and safe return of all those affected by this situation.