EVANSTON, In poor health. (AP) — The daddy of freed American teen hostage Natalie Raanan stated Friday she’s doing nicely following two weeks in captivity after she and her mom had been kidnapped in Israel by Hamas and held in Gaza.
Uri Raanan of Illinois advised The Related Press that he spoke to his daughter Friday by phone. “She’s doing good. She’s doing superb,” stated Uri Raanan, who lives within the Chicago suburbs. “I’m in tears, and I really feel very, superb.”
The 71-year-old stated he noticed on the information earlier Friday that an American mom and daughter could be launched by Hamas, and he spent the day hoping that meant his daughter and her mom, Judith Raanan.
Realizing Natalie might be able to rejoice her 18th birthday subsequent week at dwelling with household and mates feels “great. The perfect information,” her father stated.
Ben Raanan, Natalie’s brother, stated earlier than her abduction, he and his sister had spoken of getting matching tattoos to mark her birthday. As a substitute, he acquired a tattoo this week in her honor, incorporating their names together with their brother’s title.
The household’s textual content message chain sharing updates on Friday moved from tentative hope to outright celebration, tempered by an consciousness than different households nonetheless reside in worry for his or her family members, Ben Raanan advised The Related Press at his dwelling in Denver.
“Once I see her once more, I feel there aren’t going to be phrases to specific what’s occurring,” he stated. “It’s simply going to be like this intense hug that’s larger than phrases and larger than what we might really talk verbally.”
Uri Raanan stated he believes Natalie and Judith to be in transit to Tel Aviv to reunite with family, and that each will likely be again within the U.S. early subsequent week.
An Israeli military spokesperson stated the 2 Individuals had been out of the Gaza Strip and with the Israeli army. Hamas stated Friday it launched them for humanitarian causes in an settlement with the Qatari authorities.
They had been the primary hostages to be launched since Hamas militants, in line with Israel, kidnapped roughly 200 folks throughout their Oct. 7 rampage.
President Joe Biden was among the many many celebrating the information that the Raanans had been freed.
“I’m overjoyed that they are going to quickly be reunited with their household, who has been wracked with worry,” Biden stated in Washington. The president spoke Friday with Judith and Natalie and “relayed that they are going to have the total assist of the U.S. authorities as they recuperate from this horrible ordeal,” the White Home stated.
Uri Raanan stated later Friday in a brief information convention that he spoke together with his daughter for only some emotional minutes and that they didn’t speak about what she and her mom skilled prior to now two weeks. He stated Judith has a minor damage he described as a “little scratch” on her hand.
“They appear good and sound good,” he stated, including that when he sees his daughter, he plans to hug her and kiss her. “It’s going to be one of the best day of my life.”
He additionally stated he didn’t know why they had been chosen for launch.
The Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross, which transported the freed Individuals from Gaza to Israel, stated their launch provided “a sliver of hope” for these nonetheless being held.
Judith, 59, and Natalie, who each have twin Israeli-American citizenship, had been on a visit from their dwelling within the Chicago suburb of Evanston to Israel to rejoice Judith’s mom’s birthday and the Jewish holidays, relations stated.
Natalie was born within the U.S., moved to Israel with Judith till she was round 10 after which returned, her father stated.
Natalie “all the time spoke of her dwelling very dearly,” 19-year-old stepsister Frida Alonso stated, referring to Israel. “She missed it very, very dearly. Day by day she missed her grandma, she missed her dwelling. Simply the sensation of being there. So I guess this hurts lots for her.”
Mom and daughter had been in Nahal Oz, close to the Gaza border, on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants stormed into southern Israeli cities, killing a whole bunch of individuals and abducting others.
Their household had heard nothing from them because the assault and had been later advised by U.S. and Israeli officers that they had been being held in Gaza, Natalie’s brother has stated.
“The information that Judith and Natalie have been launched from the fingers of Hamas is overwhelming. It brings us an amazing quantity of gratitude to the Almighty, to God, for this unbelievable miracle,” Meir Hecht, Judith’s rabbi, stated at a information convention exterior his dwelling in Evanston on Friday afternoon.
“On the identical time we maintain our ache very deep,” stated Hecht, who referred to as for the opposite hostages to be launched as quickly as doable. “We have to proceed besieging whoever we will and nevertheless we will, and praying for his or her launch.”
Judith got here often to Meir’s congregation and felt like “a part of our household,” the rabbi stated.
Qatar stated it might proceed its dialogue with Israel and Hamas in hopes of successful the discharge of all hostages “with the last word intention of de-escalating the present disaster and restoring peace.”
Israeli army spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated Israel was persevering with to work to return hostages and discover the lacking, and its objectives had not modified. “We’re persevering with the conflict in opposition to Hamas and prepared for the subsequent stage of the conflict,” he stated.
The discharge comes amid rising expectations of a floor offensive that Israel says is aimed toward rooting out Hamas militants who rule Gaza.
Related Press reporter Thomas Peipert reported from Denver. Perez Winder reported from Evanston, Savage reported from Chicago and Baumann from Bellingham, Washington.