Family Of American Hostages Released By Hamas Speak Out

(YouTube/Screenshot/CBS Chicago)

John Oyewale Contributor
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Family members of the two American hostages released Friday by Hamas have spoken out to the media about their freed family members.

“I spoke with my daughter earlier today. She sounds very good, she looks very good, she was very happy, and she’s waiting to come home,” Uri Ranaan said at a media conference at his home in Bannockburn late Friday, video footage by CBS Chicago showed. He also thanked U.S. President Joe Biden and Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker.

“Hopefully I’m going to see them next week — next week is Natalie’s birthday, on the 24th,” Ranaan added.

Hamas fighters kidnapped Natalie, 17, and her mother Judith, 59, on Oct.7 at the kibbutz Nahal Oz while the pair were marking the Jewish Sukkot and Natalie’s grandmother’s 85th birthday.

Ranaan reportedly first learned of the release via Israeli media and then via a phone call from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), who helped him speak with his daughter. “I’m going to hug her and kiss her and it’s going to be the best day of my life,” he said. He, however, said he did not speak with Judith, “my ex-wife.” Neither Natalie nor Judith gave any detail of their treatment during captivity, Ranaan said. (RELATED: Hamas Releases Two American Hostages)

Ranaan’s wife Paola, his 19-year-old stepdaughter Frida, and his sister Sigal also spoke, expressing joy and hope for a reunion with the freed women and for the release of other hostages.

“I haven’t been sleeping for two weeks. Tonight, I’m going to sleep good,” Ranaan said while hoping for the release of the other hostages.

Natalie and Judith had locked themselves up in a guest house on Oct. 7 while hearing guns and explosions, Natalie’s brother Ben said separately to CNN. By the time the Israeli army retook the area, the two women were missing. Ben found out about their release from the media. “It was just a surreal thing,” he said.

Ten other Americans remain unaccounted for, and about 200 other hostages remain captive in Gaza, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press briefing Friday.