EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — The father of freed American teen hostage Natalie Raanan said Friday she’s doing well following two weeks in captivity after she and her mother were abducted in Israel by Hamas and held in Gaza.
Uri Raanan of Illinois told The Associated Press that he spoke to his daughter Friday by telephone. “She’s doing good. She’s doing very good,” said Uri Raanan, who lives in the Chicago suburbs. “I’m in tears, and I feel very, very good.”
The 71-year-old said he saw on the news earlier Friday that an American mother and daughter would be released by Hamas, and he spent the day hoping that meant his daughter and her mother, Judith Raanan.
Knowing Natalie may be able to celebrate her 18th birthday next week at home with family and friends feels “wonderful. The best news,” her father said.
Ben Raanan, Natalie’s brother, said before her abduction he and his sister had spoken of getting matching tattoos to mark her birthday. Instead, he got a tattoo this week in her honor, incorporating their names along with their brother’s name.
The family’s text message chain sharing updates on Friday moved from tentative hope to outright celebration, tempered by an awareness than other families still are living in fear for their loved ones, Ben Raanan told The Associated Press at his home in Denver.
“When I see her again, I think there aren’t going to be words to express what’s going on,” he said. “It’s just going to be like this intense hug that is bigger than words and bigger than what we could actually communicate verbally.”
Qatar said it would continue its dialogue with Israel and Hamas in hopes of winning the release of all hostages “with the ultimate aim of de-escalating the current crisis and restoring peace.”
Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Israel was continuing to work to return hostages and find the missing, and its goals had not changed. “We are continuing the war against Hamas and ready for the next stage of the war,” he said.
The release comes amid growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says is aimed at rooting out Hamas militants who rule Gaza.
By Associated Press