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Evanston mom and daughter released by Hamas after almost two weeks held as hostages, rabbi says

Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17.

The Evanston mother and daughter held hostage by Hamas have been released almost two weeks after their capture during a trip to Israel.

Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie Raanan, 17, were taken to Egypt and handed over to the Red Cross, Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein said Friday, citing sources in Israel.

“Why they chose these two I do not know, but it’s a miracle,” said Klein, executive director of Chabad of Evanston where Judith Raanan attends.

“The fact that they’re being released is unbelievable. Our prayers worked. While it’s a huge relief, there are still hundreds of other hostages who also need to be released,” Klein said.

Hamas decided to release the two for “humanitarian reasons,” he said.

The Raanans had been missing since Oct. 7 when a surprise attack by Hamas near the border of Gaza sparked a war that has claimed thousands of Palestinian and Israeli lives.

Last week, a family member confirmed that the two were alive and among the hostages taken by Hamas. Their family met with President Joe Biden and State Department officials on Oct. 13 who confirmed the news, Avi Zamir, the husband of Natalie Raanan’s aunt, told the Sun-Times.

Judith Raanan works as an aesthetician. Natalie Raanan graduated from Deerfield High School last spring.

The two were in Israel to visit Judith’s mom and Natalie’s grandma to celebrate her 85th birthday and Simchat Torah, the Jewish holiday marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of Torah readings. They were staying in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border.

Zamir said he and his wife, Sigal Zamir, last spoke with Natalie after the bombs started falling.

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