President Joe Biden on Friday confirmed that his administration’s effort to secure the release of a pair of American women by their Hamas kidnappers had been successful, announcing in a statement that he was “overjoyed” by their return.
“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,” he said.
While Mr Biden’s statement omitted the two released hostages’ names, the Israeli government has confirmed that the mother-and-daughter pair are Judith Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17.
They were reportedly turned over to the Red Cross by Hamas, and an Israeli Defence Forces spokesperson has said that they were in turn delivered into IDF custody.
A statement released by Hamas on its Telegram channel said a mother and her daughter were released “in response to Qatari efforts.” It continued that the release was for “humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by [Joe] Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”
Mr Biden thanked the Qatari and Israeli governments for their “partnership” in the effort to free the women and said his administration has been “working around-the-clock to free American citizens who were taken hostage by Hamas”. He also vowed that those efforts will not cease until those Americans still held by the militant group are freed.
“Jill and I have been holding close in our hearts all the families of unaccounted for Americans,” he said. “And, as I told those families when I spoke with them last week—we will not stop until we get their loved ones home. As president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans held hostage around the world”.
Richard Hall contributed reporting
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