Gaza City, October 20, 2023 — In a significant development, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have released two American hostages who were among about 200 individuals abducted in attacks by the militant group in Israel on October 7. The release comes after a wave of attacks that left hundreds dead and thousands protesting across the Arab and Muslim world.
Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter, Natalie Shoshana Raanan, are now safe in Israeli hands, as confirmed by the Israeli government. Although no specific details regarding their condition were provided, US President Joe Biden expressed his joy upon hearing the news.
Hamas has also indicated its intention to work with Qatar and Egypt to secure the release of more “civilian” hostages, suggesting that additional releases could be on the horizon. Qatar has confirmed its involvement in the process and expressed hopes for further agreements.
The wave of abductions by Hamas occurred during what has been described as the worst attacks since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Israeli authorities reported that 203 people, including both Israelis and foreigners, were taken by Hamas gunmen. The attacks resulted in the tragic deaths of at least 1,400 people, the majority of whom were civilians, according to Israeli officials.
In response to the efforts made by Qatar, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, released the two American citizens on humanitarian grounds. The mother and daughter were seized from the Nahal Oz kibbutz near the Israel-Gaza border on October 7 while reportedly on vacation in Israel.
This release took place just two days after President Biden visited Israel in a show of solidarity and support following the attacks.
Qatar, a significant donor of aid to Gaza, plays a pivotal role in mediating between Hamas and the United States. A Qatari foreign ministry spokesman revealed that the release followed “many days of continuous communication between all the parties involved” and expressed hope for the eventual release of all civilian hostages of various nationalities. The ultimate goal is to de-escalate the ongoing crisis and restore peace in the region.
The plight of the hostages has garnered international attention, with their families launching high-profile campaigns to secure their release. The Israeli military, on its part, stated that most of those abducted and taken to Gaza are still alive, although some deceased individuals have been discovered during incursions into Gaza.
It is worth noting that among the hostages, over 20 are minors, while between 10 and 20 are over the age of 60. Additionally, there are between 100 and 200 individuals considered missing since the Hamas attacks, as reported by the Israeli military.
This development brings hope for the safe return of more hostages, furthering the prospect of de-escalation in the region.