By Mark Ellis —
It is believed a mother and daughter visiting Israel from the Chicago area were captured and taken hostage by Hamas, their rabbi told the Associated Press.
Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie Raanan, traveled to a settlement area only a mile from the Gaza border, to celebrate a relative’s 85th birthday and the Jewish holiday.
“We received this terrible news that Judith and her daughter Natalie are missing and apparently were most likely taken as hostages to Gaza,” Rabbi Meir Hecht of Evanston, Illinois, told AP. “It feels like our community has been violated.”
The family last heard from Judith and her daughter a week ago.
It is believed that Hamas has abducted between 150 to 199 people, including about 13 Americans.
The Evanston community organized a vigil for the two missing women on Oct. 12.
Natalie’s uncle, Avi Zamir, described Natalie as a “kind person” and a “sweetheart” at the vigil. “We fear for her. We pray for her. We hope she’s together with her mom,” Zamir said.
“They’re innocent and loving,” said her aunt, Sigal Zamir, “and they didn’t do anything.”
Considering the vast network of underground tunnels running through Gaza – estimated at more than 300 miles – it will be extremely difficult to find the hostages and to secure their release.