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2 US hostages held in Gaza have been released

Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie Raanan were received by security forces at the border of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government said.
2 US hostages held in Gaza have been released
Posted at 1:15 PM, Oct 20, 2023

President Joe Biden and the Israeli government confirmed Friday they had secured two American hostages who were held in Gaza. 

A spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie Raanan were received by security forces at the border of the Gaza Strip. 

"They are on their way to a meeting point at a military base in the center of the country," the spokesperson said. 

Biden said he was overjoyed to know that Judith and Natalie will be safely reunited with their family. 

"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," Biden said. 

Prior to statements from Biden and Israel, Hamas announced the release of the mother and daughter, saying it was done for humanitarian reasons. 

Judith and Natalie were among about 200 people who were taken hostage after a surprise Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. 

Scripps News international correspondent Jason Bellini spoke with Judith's sister days before the pair was rescued. Saray Cohen said Natalie's last communication came via text from a safe room in a kibbutz called Nahal Oz. 

"She said that they're hearing that shooting out of their apartment and that they're OK and they love us," Cohen said. "And that was the last message I heard from them." 

It's unclear what their life was like while they were held hostage for about two weeks. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it helped facilitate their release as part of its role as a "neutral actor" during a war. 

“The release of two hostages in Gaza today is a sliver of hope. We are extremely relieved that they can now be reunited after two weeks of agony, and we continue to urge for action to protect and alleviate the suffering of all civilians affected by this devastating conflict," ICRC president Mirjana Spoljaric said. 

Israel says more than 1,000 civilians were killed during the Oct 7 attack. Hamas says more than 4,300 people have been killed  by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

During a press briefing on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State said 10 Americans remain unaccounted for. 

"We know some of them are being held hostage by Hamas, along with an estimated 200 others held in Gaza," he stated. Blinken added, "every single one of them should be released."

The U.S. is reportedly working with international partners to secure the release of hostages. Blinken thanked Qatar for its work in helping get Judith and Natalie out of Gaza. 

SEE MORE: Israeli hostage's partner speaks about her life and kidnapping

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