Released American hostage says nurses in Gaza hospital ‘cheered’ at sight of abductees

Released hostage Judith Raanan speaks to News Nation in a TV interview aired March 13, 2024. (Screenshot/News Nation used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Released hostage Judith Raanan speaks to News Nation in a TV interview aired March 13, 2024. (Screenshot/News Nation used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Released American hostage Judith Raanan, who was taken together with her teenaged Natalie Raanan by Hamas on October 7, says nurses at a hospital where they were brought after being abducted cheered at the sight of the Israeli “prey.”

The mother and her then 17-year-old daughter from Chicago were traveling in Israel to celebrate a relative’s 85th birthday and the Jewish holiday season when Hamas launched its October 7 killing spree. They had been celebrating Simchat Torah, a festive Jewish holiday that marks the conclusion of the annual reading of the Torah, in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz about a mile (1.61 kilometers) from the Gaza border that Saturday morning and were taken along with 251 other hostages to Gaza.

The pair were released on October 20, among the first and only hostages to be released unilaterally by Gazan terrorists.

Natalie Raanan, 2nd left, Judith Raanan, right, are seen upon arrival in Israel after being released from Hamas captivity as government hostage envoy Gal Hirsch, center, holds their hands, October 20, 2023. (Courtesy)

In her first TV interview since the release, Raanan, 59, told NewsNation in a segment that aired Wednesday that the nurses at the hospital ululated and “were all so happy that they came back with prey, with Israeli, Jewish prey.”

“The minute we came in, all the nurses were standing there and going like this [cheering],” she says.

Raanan recalls a “leader nurse” who led the celebrations and others “were afraid of her.”

“I really don’t think all of them were happy to see us, they were very much terrified,” she says.

Raanan says once in Gaza, she also interacted with someone she believed to be a “very high-ranked” Hamas leader who spoke “brilliant Hebrew.”

Wearing a “free the hostages” tag, a Star of David necklace, and a yellow pin, she says a deal must be reached to free the remaining hostages in Gaza.

“We have hostages that are going through mental, physical, emotional hardship and need to be released,” she says.

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