Hamas released two American hostages on Friday. Militants for the group that controls Gaza abducted mother and daughter Judith Raanan (who also goes by Yehudit Tai), 59, and Natalie Raanan (Natali Shoshana Raanan), 17, from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, during their invasion on Oct. 7. The Israeli military picked them up on Friday at the border and took them to an army base where they’ll meet with their family, according to The New York Times, which cited the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. as its source.
The transfer was facilitated by the Red Cross, according to Israel’s Twitter account. “We will do everything in our power to bring the rest of the hostages home,” the account wrote.
“Our fellow citizens have endured a terrible ordeal these past 14 days, and I am overjoyed that they will soon be reunited with their family, who has been wracked with fear,” President Biden said in a statement, according to NPR.
In a statement on the messaging platform Telegram, a spokesman for Hamas’ army, Abu Obeidah, said the release was for “humanitarian reasons,” according to the Times. Qatar assisted in mediation for the Raanan’s release.
The move comes a day after President Joe Biden asked Congress for $105 billion to help Israel and Ukraine. About a tenth of that money, $10.6 billion, would go towards military support in Israel; $9 billion would provide for humanitarian help in Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine.
Last week, The New York Times reported that the U.S. government believed 20 U.S. citizens had been taken hostage in Hamas’ raids; it believed 14 Americans had died in the incursion. Days after the attacks, family members of U.S. hostages said that they had had “no formal communication with the U.S. government.”
In a statement to Rolling Stone, the U.S. State Department said it had been in touch with the families of hostages that it was aware of. The U.S. government is working around the clock to determine the whereabouts of the missing U.S. citizens and is working with the Israeli government on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to advise the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts,” the spokesperson said.
NPR reported Friday that Hamas were still holding around 200 people hostage in Gaza.