UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — As prayer services and rallies continue amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, one man is set to embrace his family who were held captive in Gaza for nearly two weeks. Ben Raanan sat down for an interview with NewsNation’s Elizabeth Vargas.
“I don’t think there’s going to be words,” said Raanan. “I think I’m just going to hug them and just not let them go. I don’t think there are words to describe the emotions we’re going to be feeling.”
Raanan was overcome with emotion describing the daunting moments of living without his stepmom Judith and sister Natalie.
“For the past 13 days just focused on getting them back and having this kind of tightness in our stomach of like, great don’t let any emotion in,” Raanan said. “Like we have to stay strong.”
The news of the two Americans freed came just one day after New Yorkers flooded Times Square demanding the release of the hundreds of hostages held captive by Hamas. Friday evening, clergy of different faiths came together for a Shabbat service at Temple Emanu-el praying for peace in a powerful show of unity.
“The Jewish community by itself can’t shoulder the responsibility of defending Israel’s right to protect its people,” said Rabbi Joshua Davidson. “It needs to protect its people. We need other voices of more leadership in the community to be able to speak that truth too.”
Meanwhile, pro-Palestine ralliers marched to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office Friday demanding Congress to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East as the war intensifies.
As Raanan prepares to reunite with his stepmom and sister, he’s looking forward to giving them much-needed love and support as they return to life in the US.
“There’s going to be a long road to recovery and we’re going to be there with them every step of the way,” said Raanan.
Natalie and Judith are being treated at a hospital in Israel and Raanan says he’s expecting to reunite with them early next week.