Father of Released American Teen Hostage Reports She Is In Good Condition

by Ryan Lee
Hostage Crisis in Israel

Uri Raanan, the father of Natalie Raanan—an American teenager who was recently released after being held hostage in Gaza by Hamas—stated this Friday that his daughter is in a good state of health. The teen had been in captivity for two weeks, alongside her mother, Judith, after being abducted in Israel.

Raanan, a resident of the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, informed The Big Big News during a telephonic conversation with his daughter, stating, “She’s in a good condition. In fact, she’s in a very good condition. I’m emotionally overwhelmed and feel extremely relieved.”

The 71-year-old father revealed that he had learned from news reports earlier that day that an American mother-daughter pair would be released by Hamas. Raanan spent the day in hopeful anticipation that the individuals in question were his daughter and wife, Judith.

Raanan expressed that the prospect of Natalie celebrating her 18th birthday at home next week with family and friends is “extraordinary and the most uplifting news.”

He anticipates that Natalie and Judith will soon arrive in Tel Aviv to reunite with family members and expects both to return to the United States early next week.

The President of the United States, Joe Biden, joined the widespread celebration of the Raanans’ release. An Israeli army spokesperson announced that the two Americans were safely out of the Gaza Strip and are now under the care of the Israeli military. Hamas stated their release was on humanitarian grounds, facilitated by an agreement with the Qatari government.

This marks the first occasion of hostages being released since approximately 200 individuals were reportedly abducted by Hamas militants during their offensive on October 7.

In Washington, President Biden expressed his elation that the Raanans would soon reunite with their anxious family. He assured that the U.S. government would offer its full support during their recovery process.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which assisted in transporting the released Americans from Gaza to Israel, their release brings “a glimmer of hope” for those still in captivity.

The Raanans had initially traveled to Israel from their home in Evanston, Illinois, to celebrate Jewish holidays. They were caught in the Hamas attack on southern Israeli towns on October 7 while celebrating Simchat Torah in Nahal Oz, near Gaza.

Their family had not received any news about them since the attack until they were informed by U.S. and Israeli officials that the two were being held captive in Gaza, said Ben, Natalie’s brother.

Judith and Natalie Raanan’s release was described as a “miraculous event” by Meir Hecht, Judith Raanan’s rabbi, during a press conference in Evanston.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth welcomed the news of the Raanans’ release and urged people to remember other families who have loved ones still missing or abducted.

French President Emmanuel Macron referred to the Americans’ release as “an excellent outcome,” while Qatar expressed its ongoing commitment to dialogue with Israel and Hamas for the release of all hostages, aiming to deescalate the current crisis and restore peace.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari reaffirmed Israel’s continued efforts to return all hostages and find those missing, stating, “We remain committed in our war against Hamas and are prepared for the next phase of the conflict.”

Expectations are rising of a ground operation that Israel claims will focus on eradicating Hamas militants who govern Gaza.


Contributions to this report were made by Winder from Evanston, Savage from Chicago, and Baumann from Bellingham, Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about American teen hostage released by Hamas

What is the current condition of Natalie Raanan after her release?

Natalie Raanan is reported to be in good health according to her father, Uri Raanan. She had been in captivity for two weeks in Gaza, alongside her mother, Judith.

Who is responsible for the abduction of Natalie Raanan and her mother?

Hamas, the militant organization controlling Gaza, is responsible for their abduction. They were captured while celebrating a Jewish holiday in Israel.

How were Natalie Raanan and her mother released?

The release was facilitated on humanitarian grounds through an agreement between Hamas and the Qatari government. The International Committee of the Red Cross assisted in transporting them from Gaza to Israel.

What role did the U.S. government play in this incident?

U.S. President Joe Biden publicly celebrated the release of Natalie and Judith Raanan and assured that they would have the full support of the U.S. government as they recover from their ordeal.

What implications does this event have for international relations?

The release has been welcomed by global leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron. Qatar has expressed its ongoing commitment to dialogue for the release of all hostages and de-escalation of the crisis.

What is the status of other hostages captured by Hamas?

This marks the first occasion of hostages being released since the abduction of approximately 200 individuals on October 7. Efforts are ongoing to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

Were any other governmental or non-governmental organizations involved?

The International Committee of the Red Cross was involved in the transportation of the released hostages from Gaza to Israel. Additionally, Qatari government facilitated the humanitarian release.

Where were Natalie Raanan and her mother when they were abducted?

They were in Nahal Oz, near Gaza, celebrating Simchat Torah, a festive Jewish holiday, when they were abducted by Hamas militants who stormed into southern Israeli towns.

Are there plans for Natalie and Judith Raanan after their release?

Uri Raanan anticipates that both will arrive in Tel Aviv to reunite with family and return to the United States early next week. Natalie may also be able to celebrate her 18th birthday at home.

What is the current military stance of Israel toward Hamas?

According to Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel remains committed in its war against Hamas and is prepared for the next phase of the conflict, which may include a ground operation.

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MikeTheAnalyst October 21, 2023 - 12:48 am

Incredible to see that international diplomacy actually worked for once. Kudos to everyone involved in the release, especially the ICRC.

Eva_J October 21, 2023 - 5:13 am

How did Hamas even agree to this? And why now? Seems odd but I’m not complaining.

LisaK October 21, 2023 - 6:28 am

Does anyone know what will happen to them now? the article says they’re in Tel Aviv but when are they coming back to the US?

Sarah_M October 21, 2023 - 10:52 am

i’ve been following this story for weeks, so glad to hear they’re finally out and safe. Must’ve been hell for the family.

CryptoGuru October 21, 2023 - 2:53 pm

Are there any details about how the Qatari govt got involved? Seems like a big diplomatic win for them.

BobbyS October 21, 2023 - 3:09 pm

Such a heartwarming story. Can’t wait for them to reunite with their family. it’s the best news.

TechMaven October 21, 2023 - 3:12 pm

What’s next for Israel and Hamas after this? Doesn’t seem like the situation is gonna improve anytime soon tho.

JohnDoe October 21, 2023 - 4:40 pm

Wow, this is massive news! Can’t even imagine how relieved the family must be right now.

WilliamT October 21, 2023 - 6:01 pm

It’s so important that we keep our focus on getting everyone else back too. This is good news, but the story is far from over.

AnneP October 21, 2023 - 7:19 pm

Happy for Natalie and Judith but what about the others? Hundreds are still missing, right? Hope they get released too.


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