Hamas releases two US hostages

Judith Raanan, left, and her daughter Natalie. (via SMH.com.au)

Hamas has released two American hostages, Judith and Natalie Raanan, who were kidnapped during an attack in southern Israel on October 7. The women were taken from Nahal Oz kibbutz near the Gaza border and were subsequently taken to a military base in central Israel. These two individuals are the first hostages to be freed since the recent attack by Hamas gunmen in Israel, which resulted in numerous casualties and around 200 hostages.

Hamas’s armed wing spokesperson, Abu Ubaida, stated that the hostages were released due to Qatari mediation efforts. This action was taken for humanitarian reasons and to refute what they deemed as false claims made by the American administration, including President Joe Biden’s administration.

The two hostages, who had been visiting Israel from suburban Chicago to celebrate Simchat Torah, a Jewish holiday, were initially held in Gaza. President Joe Biden expressed his happiness at their release, mentioning the ongoing efforts to free other Americans still held by Hamas.

Significant loss of life and displacement are caused by the recent events in Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians were killed and wounded, including hundreds of children, and over a million people were made homeless, according to the Palestinian health ministry and the UN.