According to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan have been released from Gaza and returned to Israel.
Hamas has released two American hostages, Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie Raanan, who were kidnapped in an attack on southern Israel.
It is the first hostage to be freed since October 7, when a surprise attack by Palestinian militants left at least 1,400 people dead and about 200 taken hostage.
Hamas’ armed group Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades released the hostages “on humanitarian grounds” following Qatar’s mediation efforts, its spokesman Abu Ubaydah said on Friday.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie Raanan have been released and remain in Israel.
President Joe Biden thanked Qatar and Israel for their cooperation in securing their release in a statement.
A Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the release of the American hostages came after “days of continuous communication with all parties.”
Qatar hopes the dialogue will lead to “the release of all civilian hostages of all nationalities,” the spokesperson said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross acknowledged their contribution to efforts to free the two Americans.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitates this release by transferring the hostages from Gaza to Israel, underscoring that our role as a neutral between the parties to the conflict has real consequences. ,” the organization said in a statement.
“The ICRC continues to call for the immediate release of all hostages. We stand ready to visit the remaining hostages and facilitate their future release based on agreement between the parties.
Hamas announced on the same day that it would release two prisoners in response to Qatar’s diplomatic efforts. The Israeli military said early Friday that it believed the majority of the prisoners were still alive.
Most of the 1,400 people killed in the Hamas attack were civilians, Israeli officials said.
Israel responded with relentless shelling, killing at least 4,137 people, mostly civilians, in the Gaza Strip, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
Israel also said it had a “total siege” on the enclave and that the siege would not be lifted unless the Israeli hostages were freed.
Those detained include women, children, the elderly, foreign nationals whose release is being fought, and Israeli soldiers.