DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver man’s family members, who were visiting Israel, are among those taken hostage by Hamas earlier this month.
Ben Raanan spoke with Nexstar’s KDVR and said his family was on a call with President Joe Biden on Friday, confirming the kidnapping. Now they’re in shock and desperately hoping for their loved ones’ safe return home.
Raanan’s 17-year-old sister, Natali Raanan, and his step-mother, Judith Tai Raanan, both from Evanston, Illinois, were visiting relatives and celebrating holiday in Israel in Nahal Oz, near Gaza, when the attacks began earlier this month.
According to Raanan, the last time the family heard from Natalie, she had sent a text about hearing bombs and gunfire. She said she was going to barricade herself in the house and try to stay quiet.
The Israeli government contacted Judith’s sister in Israel and Natalie’s dad in Illinois to confirm both had been taken hostage by Hamas, the family’s rabbi told Nexstar’s WGN. A neighbor reported seeing mother and daughter being led from the house they were in by Hamas militants.
“We don’t know what [Natalie’s] current state is,” Raanan told KDVR, adding that they have received “no proof of life from Hamas.”
Hamas and other militants in Gaza have said over 130 soldiers and civilians captured from inside Israel were being held.
Natalie recently graduated from Deerfield High School in Illinois. The school principal released the following statement:
“It is with great sadness that I share we have received word that DHS alumna, Natalie Raanan (Class of 2023), who was visiting family in Israel, has been reported missing,” Deerfield High School Principal Dr. Kathryn Anderson said. “Her family fears that she has been taken hostage by Hamas. Unfortunately, we have no additional information at this time. We keep Natalie and her family in our hearts, along with all the innocent lives lost, wounded and impacted by the terrorist attack.”
Dozens gathered in Evanston on Saturday to demand the release of Natalie, Judith, and others taken hostage by Hamas.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said this week that the number of Americans believed to be held as hostages is “very small,” underscoring that 14 Americans are unaccounted for. As of Thursday, 27 Americans were confirmed dead.
When asked Sunday about the possibility of U.S. forces being on the ground in Israel, Kirby said, “What I won’t do is rule anything in or out when it comes to getting our hostages home.”
The Associated Press, as well as WGN’s Peter Curi and Jenna Barnes, contributed to this report.