Judith Raanan of Evanston and her teenage daughter Natalie, taken by Hamas terrorists as part of their invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, have been released by their captors.
The Jerusalem Post newspaper said it has confirmed that the Raanans were turned over to the Red Cross by Hamas in Gaza.
CNN said that the mom and daughter were then transferred to the Israeli Defense Forces at the Israel/Gaza border, and are on their way to an Israeli military base to meet family members.
Judith Raanan, 59, was an active member of the Chabad of Evanston congregation.
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, executive director of Chabad of Evanston, told Evanston Now that the latest reports are “good news.”
Klein said the Raanans’ friends and family are “ecstatic. We can’t wait for them to be home.”
Klein added that “if anybody was going to make it through this, it was going to be Judith because she is so positive.”
The Qatari government reportedly helped mediate the release.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, in a statement, said the Raanans “are currently in good hands with the Red Cross, but I cannot wait to welcome them back home.”
Daughter Natalie, 18, was a recent graduate of Deerfield High School.
Mom and daughter were in Israel for a relative’s 85th birthday, and were staying at a kibbutz near the Gaza border. The settlement was overrun by Hamas.
According to the Jerusalem Post, and other national and international news organizations, Hamas claimed it was releasing the pair on “humanitarian grounds,” because the mother was in poor health.
The reports said that a Hamas military wing claimed the release was to show that “‘the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.'”
However, the Post, citing Israeli sources, said the release was done in an effort to forestall an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.
Hamas reportedly still holds about 200 hostages.
Despite being thrilled over the release of Judith and Natalie, Klein said there is also a “bittersweet” feeling, because there are still 202 hostages of various nationalities.
“We hope they will all come home to their families and friends, and there will be peace in the region,” he added.
The rabbi also called freedom for the Raanans “a miracle in our times.”