December 9, 2023

Two U.S. hostages, a mother and a daughter from suburban Chicago, were released by the Hamas militant group on Friday, officials announced. The freed hostages were identified as Judith and Natalie Raanan, according to a spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Israel’s military and security forces met the pair at the country’s border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. They were being taken to a military base to be reunited with family members.

An Israeli official told CBS News they are Israeli-American dual citizens. The pair were also seen by the Red Cross, “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan reported.

“Our fellow citizens have endured a terrible ordeal these past 14 days, and I am overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family, who has been wracked with fear,” President Biden said in a statement.

Why did Hamas release Judith and Natalie Raanan?

A message posted to a Hamas-affiliated Telegram channel said the release was made for “humanitarian reasons.”

Natalie and Judith Raanan.jpg
Judith and Natalie Raanan


The developments come nearly two weeks after Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, carried out a brutal terror attack in southern Israel, igniting a war. Israel said its ongoing airstrikes hit more Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Friday, as it began evacuating a town near its northern border with Lebanon.

According to CBS News Chicago, the pair were visiting family in Israel, near the Gaza border, in a community called Nahal Oz, a kibbutz that was attacked by Hamas. Natalie Raanan just graduated from Deerfield High School in north suburban Chicago.

Her uncle, Avi Zamir, told CBS News Chicago she had texted the family shortly after the bombing began on Oct. 7, saying, “We’re all fine, yes indeed. Mommy’s room that she was sleeping in got bombed, but we are now transferring to another guest house where there is a shelter.”

Israel’s military has accused Hamas of taking over 200 people hostage.

Israel’s ongoing airstrikes on Gaza continued Friday, but stopped in the early afternoon, catching some people in the Palestinian territory off guard and prompting some to wonder if there was a cease-fire, according to CBS News reporting from inside Gaza.

CBS News will air a one-hour special, “Israel-Hamas War: The World on Edge,” on Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS and on CBS News Streaming. Download the CBS News app on your cellphone or connected TV to watch.

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