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California man's mother among 2 hostages freed by Hamas amid war

The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated the release of two hostages this week, both of them women.
Posted at 8:05 PM, Oct 23, 2023

The mother of a San Diego, California man was one of two hostages Hamas released on Monday as Israel continues to strike Gaza. 

Scripps News San Diego confirmed that 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, the mother of Southern California resident Rotem Cooper, was freed by the group. 

The other hostage released was identified as 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz.

The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated the release of the two women.

US urges Israel to delay ground invasion in Gaza
Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip

US urges Israel to delay ground invasion in Gaza

The U.S. is reportedly urging a delay on an invasion to allow time to negotiate for the release of hostages taken by Hamas.


Nurit Cooper and her husband Amiram lived in an area near the Gaza Strip. Rotem said his parents were forced to seek refuge in their in-home bomb shelter when the Hamas attacks unfolded.

After not hearing from his parents for several days, Rotem traveled to Israel. He said the lack of blood and some phone tracking data indicated that his parents were kidnapped. 

Scripps News San Diego first spoke to Rotem about the kidnapping on Oct. 13. 

As the AP reported, the husbands of Lifshitz and Cooper were among those taken on Oct. 7. Hamas said it released the women on humanitarian grounds. 

The whereabouts of the men remained unknown by late Monday. The hostages were identified by Israeli media. 

"Our role as a neutral intermediary makes this work possible & we are ready to facilitate any future release," the ICRC said in a statement. The latest release of hostages comes just days after Hamas freed two others taken captive. 

Judith Raanan and her teenage daughter Natalie Raanan made their way back into Israel on Friday. Hamas reportedly took about 200 people hostage during its surprise Oct. 7 attack on parts of Israel that left over 1,000 others dead. 

Israel has been launching strikes on Gaza since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks inside of its borders, bombarding Gaza with intense hits before an expected ground invasion. 

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, says approximately 5,000 people have been killed by the IDF strikes.

This story was originally published by Scripps News San Diego with additional reporting from Scripps News.