Joy and relief as American hostages freed by Hamas reunite with family

The father of an American hostage, released from captivity by Hamas, expressed his overwhelming joy on Friday (October 20) and revealed that he could finally look forward to a good night’s sleep after a harrowing two-week ordeal for his family.

Judith Tai Raanan and her teenage daughter, Natalie Shoshana Raanan, both residents of the Chicago area, regained their freedom on Friday, thanks to the efforts of the armed wing of Hamas. They have been safely reunited with their family on an Israeli military base, as confirmed by Israeli authorities.

Uri Raanan, speaking from his home in Bannockburn, Illinois, shared his relief and stated that he had recently spoken with his daughter, who will celebrate her 18th birthday next week. He mentioned that she “sounds very, very good,” bringing a sense of comfort to their family.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disclosed that the mother and daughter were taken captive by Hamas during the surprise attack on southern Israel from Gaza on October 7, while they were staying at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. The hostages were handed over to Israeli forces at the border of the Gaza Strip, marking the end of their ordeal.

Residents of Evanston, Illinois, particularly longtime neighbor JoAnne Ross, 71, expressed their collective relief. Ross stated that people in the apartment building where the Raanan family lives were now able to “plan for a party,” celebrating the safe return of their neighbors.

The mother and daughter were later seen in an image circulated by Israeli media, walking with a group of uniformed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) personnel who escorted them from the border moments after their release. Their healthy appearance provided a hopeful ending to this challenging chapter.