An Illinois mom and daughter who had been taken hostage by Hamas have been pictured hugging relatives after being freed following a 13 day ordeal.
Natalie Shoshana Raanan, 17, and her mother Judith Tai Raanan, 59, arrived back in Israel late on Friday, having left Gaza via an Egyptian-controlled crossing.
The pair got out of Gaza without obvious injuries, exiting a car before being surrounded by ICRC staff wearing vests bearing the red cross.
In a post to social media, the mother and daughter are seen tightly hugging relatives including Judith’s sister and mother.
The Governor of Illinois said on Friday night that the two are now receiving medical treatment without providing any details of their condition.
Following the release of Natalie, her brother, Ben, joked that he was ‘annoyed’ because she still looked ‘like a supermodel’, despite her ordeal.
‘She’s doing good. She’s doing very good,’ said Uri Raanan, 71, who lives in the Chicago suburbs, adding that they did not discuss where she was held or her conditions in captivity.
‘She did not tell me anything. But she told me they treat her nice, and she was doing very good.
‘I’m going to hug her and kiss her, and it’s going to be the best day of my life.’
‘….the last 13 days as the worst situation’
Raanan also said that he expected both of them to be back in the U.S. early next week. He described the last 13 days as ‘the worst situation’ adding that he had been kept in the dark by their captors.
Raanan said: ‘I did not sleep at night and my head was always in Israel. Lots of phone calls, lots of TV. I’ve been glued to the tv for two weeks, hoping for good news – and finally it came.’
He added: ‘I did not lose hope. Praying, and just waiting for this moment.’
An image of the two being taken back into Israel was shared by authorities in the area, with the pair surrounded by armed soldiers.
Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State, said Hamas is still feared to be holding 10 Americans hostage.
The Secretary of State revealed the number still missing during a press conference in which he announced the release of Judith and Natalie Raanan.
President Biden said he was ‘overjoyed’ by the women’s release and that he was continuing to work to free other captured Americans.