Hamas Hostage Natalie Raanan Returns Home

(LibertyInsider.org) – An Evanston teenager is finally home after experiencing a harrowing hostage ordeal while on vacation in Israel. Natalie Raanan, 18, and her mother, Judith Raanan, 59, flew in and touched down on US soil on October 30.

The Ranaans’s nightmare began on October 7 during a visit to Israel to celebrate a family member’s 85th birthday and the Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah. Insurgents from the terrorist group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on the morning of October 7. Militants stormed the kibbutz Nahal Oz, where Natalie and her mother were staying, taking both women hostage.

The pair’s protracted ordeal didn’t come to an end until October 20, when Hamas agreed to release the two women in response to pressure from Qatar. The International Committee of the Red Cross stepped in to transport them from the border to a nearby military base in Israel.

Uri Raanan, Natalie’s father, was able to speak to his daughter over the phone for the first time in two weeks that day. During an emotional press conference with NBC News, he said she “sounded good, looked very good, and was very happy and waiting to come home.” He noted that Judith had suffered a small scratch to her hand but was also otherwise well.

President Joe Biden reached out to Natalie and Judith by telephone shortly after they arrived at the military base in Israel. He wished the two women well and promised to keep pushing for the release of all hostages.

Hamas claims it released the two women for compassionate reasons. Al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson Abu Obaida confirmed these sentiments on Telegram but strongly rebuked the Biden administration’s ongoing narrative about the conflict.

“In a gesture aimed at discrediting claims…,” he said, “we have released two American citizens—a mother and her daughter—thanks to Qatari diplomatic efforts and for humanitarian reasons.”

Consul General of Israel Yinam Cohen spoke to Fox News about the release in an exclusive interview on October 31. He declined to provide any private details but confirmed that Hamas appears to be holding hostages in underground tunnels throughout Gaza.

Cohen was also careful to note that Natalie’s return doesn’t mean the ongoing hostage crisis is over. Hamas is still holding an estimated 240 people captive, at least 30 of whom he claims are children. “We have to [remember] that this is a war crime,” Cohen pointed out.

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