Americans Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, have been released by Hamas, ending nearly two weeks of captivity after being abducted during the surprise assault on southern Israel from Gaza. They were connected to a Jewish congregation in the Chicago-area suburb of Evanston, Illinois. The mother and daughter were visiting Israel to celebrate Jewish holidays and Natalie’s high school graduation when they were abducted from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Following their release, which was confirmed by both Hamas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they were reunited with family inside Israel as relatives back home in Illinois celebrated. The release is seen as a first step in ongoing negotiations for more hostage releases. This incident followed a deadly terrorist attack on southern Israel, with dozens of hostages taken.