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Hamas Releases American Hostages, Israel Prepares for Potential Ground Invasion

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Monday, July 17, 2023. Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

In the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hamas, the Islamist group governing Gaza, has released two American hostages. Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17, who were kidnapped during an attack on southern Israel on October 7, were safely returned to their families.


The release of the hostages comes after Hamas gunmen had burst into Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of 1,400 lives, primarily civilians, and the abduction of around 200 others.

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An image obtained by Reuters after their release showed the two women surrounded by three Israeli soldiers and holding hands with Gal Hirsch, Israel’s coordinator for captives and missing.

President Biden released a photo of Judith and Natalie Raanan speaking with him on the phone after their release. [Image/Courtesy]

Uri Raanan, Natalie’s father, confirmed that he had spoken to his daughter by phone and expressed his relief, saying, “She sounds very, very good, very happy – and she looks good.”

Hamas spokesperson Abu Ubaida cited humanitarian reasons and Qatari mediation efforts for the release of the American hostages.

While this may offer a glimmer of hope for peace, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains steadfast in his commitment to resolve the conflict.

In a statement, he said, “Two of our abductees are at home. We are not giving up on the effort to return all abducted and missing people. At the same time, we’ll continue to fight until victory.”

Israel has been amassing tanks and troops near Gaza, raising concerns of a potential ground invasion. The region has witnessed a relentless bombardment, resulting in the loss of at least 4,137 Palestinian lives, including hundreds of children, and the displacement of more than a million, according to Palestinian officials.

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The situation remains complex and fraught with tension, but the release of these American hostages may represent a turning point in the ongoing conflict.


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