A 17-year-old girl, who is a recent Deerfield High School graduate, along with her mother, have been released after they were taken hostage by Hamas in Israel.
“In response to Qatari efforts, Al-Qassam Brigades released two American citizens (a mother and her daughter) for humanitarian reasons,” the Hamas militant group said in a statement Friday.
Hamas said they also released the two to “prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”
The two referenced Americans have now been confirmed to be Natalie Raanan, 17, and her mother, Judith Raanan, 59, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel.
CNN reported Natalie and Judith were handed over to the Red Cross and were being evacuated.
Judith was reported to be in poor health, the outlet reported.
The mother and daughter, who are Evanston residents, went to Israel to visit family.
They were taken hostage by Hamas following its attack on Israel on October 7.
Judith and Natalie were in Nahal Oz, which is near Gaza. A vigil was held last week in Evanston for the two.
Natalie is a recent graduate of Deerfield High School, according to the school’s principal.
Sarai Cohen, Judith’s sister, said her sister and niece were visiting to celebrate their mother’s 85th birthday and to spend time with family during the Jewish holidays.
U.S. President Joe Biden said that he spoke last Friday with family members of Americans who are still unaccounted for following the attack in Israel.
“I assured them of my personal commitment to do everything possible to return them to their families. We won’t stop until they’re home,” Biden said.