Hamas has released two American captives, a spokesman for the Palestinian militant group said on Friday. The group said that it freed the hostages to prove US President Joe Biden’s “fascist” administration wrong.
“In response to Qatari efforts, Al-Qassam Brigades released two American citizens for humanitarian reasons,” Abu Obaida said in a statement, referring to Hamas’ military wing.
He added that the move was intended “to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”
It is unclear which of Biden’s claims that Obaida was referencing, although the Hamas spokesman may have been referring to the American leader’s declaration on Wednesday that the group’s fighters “have committed atrocities that make ISIS look more rational.”
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Obaida said that the two Americans released were a mother and her daughter. As of Friday night, neither American nor Israeli authorities had confirmed the release, although the Red Cross told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that it had received the two women.
The women were named in Israeli media as Judith and Natalie Raanan.
Hamas says that it is currently holding around 200 hostages in Gaza, while another 50 are being held by other militant groups in the territory, and 20 have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. Earlier this week, senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal suggested that Israeli captives could be traded for Palestinians in Israeli jails, while foreign hostages would be released “when circumstances allow.”
More than 20 Americans have been reported as missing since Hamas launched its surprise attack on Israel almost two weeks ago, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. Republican Senator Jim Risch said this week that 10 of this number are in captivity in Gaza.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to get them home if we can find them,” Biden told CBS News earlier this week. Biden did not go into further detail on his administration’s efforts to recover the hostages, nor did he mention the Qatari government’s involvement as a mediator.
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