Dad of released Hamas hostage rejoices: ‘Best day of my life!’

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The “worst two weeks” of Uri Raanan’s life just turned into the “best day” he’s ever had.

His 17-year old daughter, Natalie, and his ex-wife, Judith, have both been freed from their Hamas captors and will be heading home to America soon.

“I feel wonderful!” Uri Raanan told the Herald this afternoon when reached at his home in Illinois. “I’m in tears. I just got off the phone with the president and the governor … and I talked to my daughter.”

The 72-year-old father said his daughter is “OK” and “didn’t say much” but will be home within a week.

The mother and daughter were in Israel celebrating a grandmother’s 85th birthday when they were taken hostage Oct. 7 in the Hamas terror attack. Multiple reports state the two were released today — the first hostages to gain freedom.

Uri Raanan said President Biden called him to break the news to him that his ex-wife and daughter were free. He said Biden was gracious and as equally hopeful as the dad that this could be a break in the terror over an estimated 200 hostages in the hands of Hamas.

“I’ve been waiting for this for two weeks,” Uri Raanan said. “I’m finally going to sleep good tonight. I really appreciate the president’s effort.”

He said it was “the worst two weeks of my life and today is the best day I ever had.”

Uri Raanan was reached by the Herald on his cellphone at his home in Illinois. He said Gov.  JB Pritzker had also shared the news of the release.

Another relative, who asked not to be named, told the Herald she is “beyond relieved,” adding she too is praying this is a break in the hostage stalemate.

“Oh my God,” she said when the Herald broke the news of the release of Judith and Natalie. “I’m elated. There’s hope there’s an end to this.”

The Jerusalem Post is reporting the mother and daughter were released on “humanitarian grounds” because the mother is in poor health. The paper added the Red Cross has also confirmed their release.

The Post added the Hostages and Missing Families Forum cautioned that the Raanan’s are just two of the more than 200 hostages being held by Hamas.

“The continued holding of hostages is a war crime,” a statement by the headquarters said. “Many leaders in Arab states have tremendous influence over its leaders and must act to immediately release all the hostages and missing held in Gaza. We call on world leaders and the international community to exert their full power in order to act for the release of all the hostages and missing.”

This is a developing story …

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