Photo released of 2 Americans — a mother and daughter — freed after being held hostage by Hamas for nearly 2 weeks – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

Photo released of 2 Americans — a mother and daughter — freed after being held hostage by Hamas for nearly 2 weeks

In this photo provided by the Government of Israel, Judith Raanan, right, and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie are escorted by Israeli soldiers and Gal Hirsch, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special coordinator for returning the hostages, as they return to Israel from captivity in the Gaza Strip, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.

(Government of Israel via AP Photo)

The Israeli government released the first photo of a mother and daughter freed Friday after Hamas held them hostage.
Judith and Natalie Raanan, from suburban Chicago, were in Israel to celebrate the recent Jewish holidays.
The two are the first of roughly 200 hostages from multiple countries to be released.

The first photo of Judith and Natalie Raanan — the mother and teenage daughter freed Friday after being held hostage by Hamas — was released by the Israeli government.

In the image, they are walking, flanked by two Israeli soldiers, and holding the hands of Gal Hirsch, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special coordinator for returning hostages, who walks between them.

Their condition is still unknown, though they are getting “necessary medical treatment,” according to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. The two also spoke to US President Joe Biden, who has called for privacy for the family. WHEN DID HE SAY THIS

Judith and Natalie Raanan, from Evanston, Illinois, were in Israel to celebrate the recent Jewish holidays. They were at the Nhal Oz kibbutz on October 7, when militants from Hamas attacked southern towns, kibbutzim, and a music festival, killing at least 1,400.

The two are the first of roughly 200 hostages from multiple countries — including other missing Americans believed to be held by Hamas — to be released.

The release comes amid growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says is aimed at rooting out Hamas militants who rule Gaza. Israel said Friday it does not plan to take long-term control over the tiny territory, home to some 2.3 million people.

As the Israeli military punished Gaza with airstrikes, authorities inched closer to bringing aid from Egypt to desperate families and hospitals. Fighting between Israel and militants in neighboring Lebanon also raged, prompting evacuations of Lebanese and Israeli border towns as fears of a widening conflict grew.

Hamas said in a statement that it was working with mediators “to close the case” of hostages if security circumstances permit. The group added that it is committed to mediation efforts by Egypt, Qatar, and other countries.

Qatar said it would continue its dialogue with Israel and Hamas in the hopes of winning the release of all hostages “with the ultimate aim of de-escalating the current crisis and restoring peace.”

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel was continuing to work to return hostages and find the missing, and its goals had not changed. “We are continuing the war against Hamas and ready for the next stage of the war,” he said.

More than 4,100 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry run by Hamas. That includes a disputed number of people who died in a hospital explosion earlier this week.

The humanitarian crisis has worsened for Gaza’s civilians every day since Israel halted entry of supplies two weeks ago, depleting fuel, food, water, and medicine. Two days after Israel announced a deal to allow Egypt to send in aid, the border remained closed Friday as Egypt repaired the Rafah crossing, damaged by Israeli strikes.

Over a million people have been displaced in Gaza. Many heeded Israel’s orders to evacuate the northern part of the sealed-off enclave on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. But Israel has continued to bomb areas in southern Gaza where Palestinians had been told to seek safety. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called areas in the south “safe zones” earlier this week, Israeli military spokesman Nir Dinar said Friday: “There are no safe zones.”

The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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