U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with the recent Deerfield High School graduate and her mother, who were released Friday and are receiving medical treatment, after they were taken hostage by Hamas.
“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 initially unnamed Americans were later confirmed to be Natalie Raanan, 17, and her mother, Judith Raanan, 59.
The father of Natalie Raanan said during a press conference Friday evening that his daughter sounds and looks “very good” and is waiting to come home.
“Her mother has a little scratch on her hand. But she told me it’s nothing. She’s okay,” the father said, adding that he hopes to see his daughter next week.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement that he was “incredibly relieved” that the mother and daughter were released.
“In what was supposed to be a visit to their loving family in Israel, they were violently abducted by a terrorist organization,” Pritzker said.
“I cannot wait to welcome them back home after demonstrating immense strength and bravery in the face of unthinkable terror. We must continue to advocate and pray for the safe return of those still held by Hamas,” Pritzker added.
The governor said the two are now safe and receiving necessary medical treatment.
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 Friday evening that he spoke with the mother and daughter.
Biden said he let them know that “their government will fully support them as they recover and heal.”
“Jill and I will continue holding close in our hearts all the families of unaccounted for Americans,” Biden said.