US-Israeli teen held captive by Hamas returns home to Chicago following release

Natalie Raanan, who just turned 18, heads back to US following harrowing ordeal, while her mother remains in Israel as several members of wider family still held hostage

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)

CHICAGO — US-Israeli teenager Natalie Raanan, held hostage after Hamas’s October 7 assault on Israel and later released, has returned home to Chicago, the local Israeli consulate said Tuesday.

Raanan and her mother Judith were visiting relatives in Israel when they were taken hostage. Both have since been released, though her mother stayed in Israel, Chicago media reported.

“I am relieved to see Natalie back home in Chicago,” Yinam Cohen, the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, said in a statement. “Her family members have been anxiously waiting for her return, and today I am sharing their happiness.”

Both women live in Evanston, just north of the city. Natalie turned 18 shortly after her release from captivity.

The two were freed October 20, in the first hostage release confirmed by both sides. Since then, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79, were also released from the Strip, and on Monday it was revealed that IDF soldier Cpl. Ori Megidish was rescued by Israeli forces.

Natalie Raanan was born in the US, moved to Israel with Judith until she was around 10 and then returned to the US, where she currently lives, her father said.

This handout picture courtesy of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, taken on October 20, 2023, shows Natalie Raanan (L) and her mother Judith Raanan speaking on the phone with US President Joe Biden, after they were held hostage and later released by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group. (US Embassy in Jerusalem/AFP)

The mother and daughter were in Nahal Oz, near the Gaza border, on October 7 when Hamas terrorists stormed into southern Israel during their devastating assault.

Eight other members of Judith and Natalie’s wider family are among the hostages. Two members of the wider family were killed by terrorists in Hamas’s October 7 onslaught.

Hamas took the hostages, believed to now number around 240, during a bloody rampage across southern Israel, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

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