Uri Raanan said he saw on the news that Hamas was releasing an American mother and daughter, and he spent the day hoping they meant his ex-wife, Judith Raanan, and his daughter, 17-year-old Natalie, who live in Evanston, Illinois.
“I was waiting for this day, for two weeks,” Raanan said. “And this is the best day of my life.”
Raanan said that he has spoken to his daughter since her release, saying, “She’s doing good.
“She’s doing very good,” Uri Raanan said. “I’m in tears, and I feel very, very good.”
Raanan believes she will be home soon, adding that he believes Natalie and Judith are on their way to Tel Aviv to reunite with relatives before returning to the U.S.
Raanan said that Natalie indicated her captors treated “her nice.”
Natalie’s return to the U.S. means she will be able to celebrate her 18th birthday next week with family and friends.
President Joe Biden was among the many celebrating the stunning news that the Raanans had been freed.
Raanan stressed that he was thankful for the support of the president, saying he was hopeful Hamas would “release the rest of the hostages.”
The release comes amid growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says is aimed at rooting out the Hamas militants who rule Gaza.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.