In an incident that captured widespread attention, two American hostages, Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, were released from Hamas militants’ custody in Gaza on October 21. While their release is a welcome development, it has been marred by controversy, as American writer and social activist Shaun King has claimed to have played a role in facilitating their freedom. The Raanan family’s reaction to King’s claims, however, has been strongly dismissive and even accusatory.
Judith Tai Raanan and Natalie Shoshana Raanan, both U.S. citizens, were taken hostage by Hamas militants following the group’s October 7 attack on Israel. The release came as a result of Qatari mediation efforts and was framed by Hamas as a humanitarian gesture. The group stated that they released the hostages to challenge what they deemed as false and baseless claims made by the Biden administration.
King later took to Instagram to claim that he had a hand in securing the release of the Raanans. In his post, King expressed his gratitude to Hamas for freeing the mother and daughter and thanked the Qatari government for their role in the negotiations. He claimed that the Raanan family had been supporters of his, participating in protests against police violence in the United States.
King’s post read: “Hamas has just freed the teenager Natalie Raanan and her mother. I’m grateful. As I said last week, Natalie and her family have been supporters of mine and protested police violence in America alongside us. I am also thankful to the Qatari government for helping to negotiate this. Dozens of us worked frantically behind the scenes to help make this possible. I spoke to Natalie’s family this afternoon, and they are anxiously awaiting more updates.”
In stark contrast to King’s claims, the Raanan family categorically denied any connection or association with King, calling him a “liar” and vehemently rejecting his assertions: “First and foremost, we make it clear that he is lying! Our family does not and did not have anything to do with him, neither directly nor indirectly. Not to him and not to anything he claims to represent.”
Furthermore, the Raanan family explained that prior to her release, Natalie had no previous awareness of King’s name and posts. This discovery occurred following two harrowing weeks of captivity in Gaza when she was finally able to access a phone and check what was written about her while she was away.
While the release of Judith and Natalie Raanan represents a positive development, around 200 people who were abducted from Southern Israel during Hamas’ October 7 attack remain in captivity. As efforts to secure their fate continue, their fates remain uncertain.
Written by Ava LeFevreShare this: