Jerusalem/Rafah, Gaza, Oct. 20 (EFE) – The spokesman of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, announced on Friday the release of two American hostages for “humanitarian reasons” after Qatar’s mediation.
Abu Obeida, whose group is the armed wing of Hamas, said on his Telegram account that the two kidnapped were a mother and daughter.
He stated that they have adopted this gesture to “for humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by (President Joe) Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”
At the moment, Israeli authorities have not officially confirmed the release of the two kidnapped women, who have not been identified by the Al-Qasam Brigades.
However, a Hamas source told EFE that the hostages are Judith and Natalie Raanan, from Evanston, on the outskirts of Chicago (USA).
He explained that they had coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the delivery of the two hostages to the organization and that they had ensured that both reached Israeli soil.
“On our part, it is a clear humanitarian step to demonstrate that our conflict is only with Israel,” the source added.
The relatives of those kidnapped by Hamas, grouped under the umbrella of the so-called “Families of Hostages and Missing Persons Forum,” welcomed the release of the two women in a statement, recalling that kidnappings are “a war crime.”
“Hundreds of families are waiting for help from the leaders of Arab countries after Hamas’ actions shocked the world,” the note added, stressing that “many Arab leaders have tremendous influence” over the Palestinian group and “they must act for the immediate release” of the kidnapped and disappeared.
They also urged world leaders and the international community to do everything in their power to secure the release of the hostages.
The announcement comes two days after Biden visited Israel to demonstrate that the US is “unwavering” and supports the right of Israelis to defend themselves.
In addition, he compared Hamas to the terrorist group Islamic State (IS), saying, “Hamas has committed atrocities that make ISIS look more rational.”
Biden also backed Israel’s theory about Tuesday’s explosion at a Gaza hospital, which points to a failed Islamic Jihad rocket as the cause.
The exact number of hostages with US passports held by Islamists in Gaza is unknown.
There are currently 13 Americans missing and 30 dead following Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which left more than 1,400 dead on Israeli soil.
The Palestinian group also kidnapped 250 hostages – 200 it says are in its hands and 50 in the hands of other Palestinian militias – although the Israeli army has reduced that number to 203.
On Oct. 11, the Qatari network Al Jazeera published a video by the Al-Qasam Brigades in which one of the hostages was apparently seen with two freed children. The video, shot from a distance, showed an unidentified woman with the two minors behind her.
Two men, presumably Hamas guerrillas, could be seen walking away from the presumably freed hostages in an open area next to a fence, presumably between Israel and Gaza, which the Israeli army described as “theater.” EFE