Photo Credit: Doha Information Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar
Qatari Envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi

Gaza’s Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist organization released an American mother and daughter from Chicago on Friday, allegedly for “humanitarian reasons,” after intervention by Qatar. The wealthy Arab nation has had close ties with the United States for years; with Israeli cooperation, Qatar has provided monthly stipends to Hamas members and needy Gazans for years, with Israeli cooperation.

Israeli officials confirmed the release.


Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie – residents of Evanston, Illinois, outside of Chicago – were visited family living near the Gaza border to celebrate their grandmother’s 85th birthday when they were abducted by Hamas terrorists along with more than 200 others.

The two women were transferred to the Israeli border via the Red Cross late Friday, and were taken to an army base in central Israel where their families were waiting to greet them.

The Hamas military wing said in a statement, ““This is to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”

In making the announcement, however, Hamas did not reveal the fate of the dozens of babies, toddlers, young children and elderly hostages abducted by its operatives on October 7, including many with medical issues, who are still being held captive in Gaza.

US President Joe Biden spoke with both freed hostages and told them the American government “will fully support them as they recover and heal.” That having been said, the president did not ignore the fact that more than 200 hostages are still being held in Gaza by Hamas, and there are many Americans as yet unaccounted for.

Twenty trucks carrying humanitarian aid were allowed to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt early Saturday, possibly in response to the release of the hostages. The trucks carried food and water — more than 44,000 bottles of drinking water — and were escorted by the Egyptian Red Crescent, the World Health Organization and the UN World Food Program.

According to UNICEF, Gaza residents are currently supplied with three liters of water per day — precisely the amount of water Israelis are warned to secure for themselves in their bomb shelters while under rocket fire.

At least 203 Israelis and foreign nationals were abducted by the terrorists during their barbaric attack October 7 on southern Israel, launching the ‘Swords of Iron’ War.

More than 1,400 Israelis have been murdered by the terrorists, including many who were tortured and some whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition. Many were burned alive by the terrorists who hurled grenades at the bomb shelters where they were taking refuge.

More than 4,500 Israelis have been wounded since the start of the war. Hamas and its ally, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have fired at least 7,380 missiles and rockets at Israeli civilians since October 7.

The decision by Hamas was made unilaterally and the Israeli government emphasized nothing was offered to the terrorist organization in exchange.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.