Father Speaks to Freed Hostage

Uri Raanan says his teenage daughter should be home for her birthday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 22, 2023 10:05 AM CDT
Father Speaks to Freed Hostage
Uri Raanan, right, talks to reporters outside his Bannockburn, Ill., home with his sister Sigal Zamir, left; his wife, Paola Raanan, center; and her daughter Frida Alonso after his daughter Natalie and her mother Judith Raanan were released by Hamas on Friday.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The father of freed American 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 told the AP that he spoke to his daughter Friday by telephone. "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 had seen on the news 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 that Natalie may celebrate her 18th birthday this week at home with family and friends feels "wonderful. The best news," her father said.

Ben Raanan, Natalie's brother, said that 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 said 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."

President Biden spoke Friday with the two and "relayed that they will have the full support of the US government as they recover from this terrible ordeal," the White House said. "I just wanted to say thank you for your services to Israel," Natalie told the president. Judith told him they were in good health. Uri Raanan said that he spoke with his daughter for only a few emotional minutes, per the AP, and that they didn't talk about the past two weeks. He said Judith has a minor injury he described as a "little scratch" on her hand. "They look good and sound good," he said, adding that when he sees his daughter he plans to hug her and kiss her: "It's going to be the best day of my life."

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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