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News > World

Two US Citizen Hostages Released - Hamas Spokesman

  •  Hamas said the release had come after diplomatic mediation efforts by Qatar.

    Hamas said the release had come after diplomatic mediation efforts by Qatar. | Photo: X/@CynthVonBuhler

Published 20 October 2023
Opinion

According to the Palestinian militant group, it is currently holding some 200 hostages in Gaza.

A spokesman for the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) reported Friday the release by the group of two U.S. national hostages on humanitarian grounds. 

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Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie Raanan, of the Illinois city of Evanston, are the first hostages released since the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas.

Spokesman Abu Ubaida said Hamas' armed wing, the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, "released two American citizens on humanitarian grounds."

The official noted that the move is intended to demonstrate to "the American people and the world that the claims of Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless."

These statements may be related to remarks by U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this week that Hamas fighters "have committed atrocities that make ISIS look more rational." Biden has announced his full support for Israel amid the current escalation of hostilities. The ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza for more than two weeks has left at least 4,218 Palestinians killed and 13,400 injured, mostly children and women.

The Red Cross has said in statements to the press that it had received the two women, and has also confirmed that it contributed to efforts to secure the release of the American citizens. 

"The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped facilitate this release by transporting the hostages from Gaza to Israel, underlining the real-life impact of our role as a neutral actor between the warring parties," it said.

In this regard, Hamas said earlier in the day that the release had taken place following Qatar's diplomatic mediation efforts. 

For its part, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said the two hostages were released after "many days of continuous communication with all parties." Qatar expressed hope that the dialogue would lead to the "release of all civilian hostages of all nationalities."

According to the Palestinian militant group, they are currently holding some 200 hostages in Gaza after launching a surprise attack on October 7 against irregular Jewish settler settlements around Gaza, in which they took hundreds of people hostage. 

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