CHICAGO — A mother and daughter from Evanston visiting family in Israel were reportedly taken hostage by Hamas, according to the family’s rabbi.
Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie, a recent graduate of Deerfield High School, traveled to Nahal Oz, Israel, near the Gaza border, to celebrate a relative’s 85th birthday and Jewish holidays on Monday, Sept. 2.
The family’s rabbi told WGN-TV that the Israeli government contacted Judith’s sister in Israel and Natalie’s dad in Illinois with confirmation the two were taken hostage by Hamas. It’s not known where they’re being held.
“A neighbor witnessed them being led out of the house by Hamas militants and from there we don’t know,” Natalie’s brother Ben Raanan said. “It still doesn’t feel real. It seems like at any minute I’m going to get a text from Natalie and she’s going to say, ‘Oh silly me, I didn’t charge my phone.’ There’s an overwhelming amount of despair, but there’s also an overwhelming amount of hope.”
The Hamas militant group attacked the community in Israel where they were staying nearly a week ago, the Israeli government confirmed.
Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, launched attacks over the weekend against Israel, which prompted a counterattack from Israeli forces.
Counterattacks from Israel have destroyed neighborhoods in Gaza — home to more than 2.3 million Palestinians.
The Hamas are reportedly holding as many as 150 people hostage following the weekend assault on Israel.