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Hamas Releases Two U.S. Hostages Amid Ongoing Gaza-Israel Conflict

Hamas Releases Two U.S. Hostages Amid Ongoing Gaza-Israel Conflict

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has released two American hostages, 59-year-old Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie, after capturing them during a deadly October raid in Israel.

The release comes amidst ongoing violence in the region that has killed thousands. Israel confirmed the Raanans were handed over in Gaza following negotiations. Hamas cited humanitarian reasons for the move.

The Raanans were kidnapped from southern Israel’s Kibbutz Nahal Oz where they were staying. President Biden expressed joy at their release and credited U.S. and Qatari officials with securing the deal.

Their suburban Chicago community celebrated the news after tireless advocacy efforts. But the fate of some 30 other American captives, and hundreds more of other nationalities, remains uncertain as talks continue.

Avshalom Haran, Natalie’s uncle, was confirmed killed in the initial Hamas attack, one of several family members affected. Others are still missing and feared abducted in Gaza.

The larger conflict has brought immense suffering on both sides. Palestinian officials say Israeli bombardment has killed over 4,000 Gazans. Hamas’ raid killed 1,400 Israelis and captured about 200 more hostages.

Securing the Raanans’ freedom brings immense relief. But much work remains to address the devastating human toll as efforts toward a ceasefire persist. An end to the bloodshed and safe return of all hostages is the ultimate hope.

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