DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver man’s family members who were visiting Israel and taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 have been released, according to the Office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ben Raanan’s 17-year-old sister, Natali Raanan, and her mother, Judith Tai Raanan, from Evanston, Illinois, were reportedly released on “humanitarian grounds” following a mediation effort from Qatar.
Natali’s father, Uri Raanan, spoke with the media on Friday night. He said he spoke with his daughter and Judith, his ex-wife, earlier in the day.
“She sounds very good, she looks very good, she was very happy, and she’s waiting to come home,” he said of Natali. He said Judith had a scratch but said she was OK.
Uri Raanan said he learned about their release when their photo was released on television. He said he later got a phone call from the Israel Defense Forces and soon was able to speak with his daughter.
He said he hopes to see both Natali and Judith next week. It will be Natali’s 18th birthday.
Biden said he spoke with both hostages after their release.
“I just spoke with the two Americans released today after being held hostage by Hamas,” the president posted. “I let them know that their government will fully support them as they recover and heal. Jill and I will continue holding close in our hearts all the families of unaccounted for Americans.”
Netanyahu’s office reported the pair are on their way to an Israeli military base after a border handover. No prisoner exchanges were part of their release.
The pair were originally taken hostage by Hamas from the Nahal Oz kibbutz in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip where they were visiting family.
“In response to Qatari efforts, Al-Qassam Brigades released two American citizens (a mother and her daughter) for humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless,” Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obaida told Fox News. The Al-Qassam Brigades is the armed wing of Hamas.
A source with knowledge of the release reported the hostages are now in the Red Cross’ care. As of Friday morning, national sources reported that 11 Americans are still unaccounted for since the first attack on Oct. 7.
Biden, speaking in Israel Wednesday, said, “There’s no higher priority than the release and safe return of all these hostages” captured by Hamas.
Ben Raanan told FOX31 his sister sent a text to the family telling them she was going to barricade herself into the house and stay quiet as she heard bombs and gunfire. That was the last contact he had with them.
FOX31 has reached out to Ben Raanan for comment on the release of his family members.