Update: The two American citizens released by Hamas earlier in the day have been identified as Judith and Natalie Raanan from Chicago. They were visiting family in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, celebrating the birthday of Judith’s mother, when they were kidnapped by Hamas militants and taken to Gaza.
Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas, said Friday, October 20, the group has released two American hostages out of the roughly 200 captives abducted from Israel on October 7 for “humanitarian reasons.” Israel confirmed that the two Americans – a mother and daughter – were reportedly released following efforts by Qatar. Ubaida said they were released to “prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.” Israeli media then leaked a report showing that Hamas released the two unilateral, getting nothing in return from Israel in the process.
While Israel did confirm the release, the identities of the two have not yet been revealed. Hamas didn’t explain when, where, or how the two Americans were released. A statement from the Israeli military earlier in the day said the majority of the hostages are still alive and that about 20 of them were minors while between ten and 20 are believed to be over 60. The Red Cross has announced it has the two released Americans.