MSNBC Middle East and Israeli correspondent breaks down on air

Moment NBC’s longtime Middle East and Israeli correspondent breaks down on air as he reveals that two of his wife’s family members are among Hamas’ hostages in Gaza

  • Martin Fletcher, who has reported from Israel since 1982, broke down in tears during on MSNBC as he revealed his personal connection to the current conflict  

One of MSNBC’s long-term Middle East and Israeli correspondent broke down on air while explaining that among the hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas are two members of his wife’s family.

Fletcher revealed that kidnapped Illinois residents, Judith Raanan and her daughter, Natalie, 17, were in the country celebrating a relative’s birthday when the barbaric assault began on October 7.

‘They were last seen, their hands tied, being dragged away by the Hamas terrorists. So it’s personal, it’s real, and nobody is really confident that it’s possible to get them back alive. Of course, everybody’s hoping,’ Fletcher told Stephanie Ruhle on Thursday. 

Through tears, Fletcher said: ‘Hamas is using the hostages for psychological warfare.’ He described the conflict as a ‘very personal thing.’ 

‘Nobody is really confident that it’s possible to get them back alive,’ he somberly added.

Martin Fletcher appeared on MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle and described how personal the current conflict in Israel is as two members of his wife’s family have been taken by Hamas 

Natalie Ranaan was visiting family for the High Holidays with her mother, Judith, when the assault began on Saturday. Since then, relatives have not heard from either woman

Judith Raanan was also taken hostage along with her daughter. Their family in Illinois has not heard from them since Saturday

Through tears, Fletcher said: ‘Hamas is using the hostages for psychological warfare.’ He described the conflict as a ‘very personal thing

‘Israel says hostages are their number one priority, but actually, the bottom line probably is that they’re the number two priority. The number one priority is to go into Gaza, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, to kill the Hamas leadership and to destroy Hamas,’ Fletcher continued. 

Fletcher earlier spoke about the fact due to Israel’s small size, the current outbreak of violence following the Hamas attack effects everybody.  

This week a Hamas spokesperson said that the terror organization had taken over 200 hostages during the conflict. 

Fletcher has worked for NBC in some capacity since 1977 beginning as a cameraman. He began working from Tel Aviv in 1982, becoming bureau chief in 1996. 

During his career, he has one five Emmy awards, two of which were down to his reporting on Palestinian uprisings. In 2010, he published a book on his experiences reporting from Israel, Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation. 

That was follow-up to his lauded memoir, Breaking News: A Stunning and Memorable Account of Reporting from Some of the Most Dangerous Places in the World. 

Raanan and her mother were visiting family in Israel for the High Holidays. Their relatives 

Natalie Raanan is a typical 17-year-old: she loves art, makeup, fashion, and DoorDash — ‘she hates eating at home,’ said her brother, Ben Raanan, told The Associated Press this week. 

She graduated from high school in the Chicago suburbs this year, and has a birthday coming up, according to her brother, who is 34 and based in Denver.

Before she left on a trip to Israel to celebrate her grandmother’s 85th birthday and the Jewish holidays with her mother, Judith Raanan, the teen was deciding between going to college to study interior or fashion design and taking an apprenticeship with a tattoo shop.

The pair had been sending updates as the trip progressed and were enjoying ‘this really special mom and daughter time together,’ said their rabbi, Meir Hecht.

But the family hasn’t heard from either mother or daughter since Hamas launched an unprecedented surprise attack.

Natalie is ‘just a very loving, kind person,’ said her older brother, Ben Raanan. Their middle brother, Adam, is nonverbal and much older than she is, but Natalie makes it a priority to maintain a strong bond with him, he explained.

The family has been in touch with both U.S. and Israeli government officials, who confirmed Natalie and Judith are alive and being held hostage by Hamas, according to Ben Raanan.

‘This whole situation is surreal,’ he said. ‘We are a very peaceful family. We do not advocate at all for any violence to be done to anyone in this world.’

Judith Raanan was very active in her faith community, Chabad of Evanston, said her friend and the rabbi’s wife, Yehudis Hecht. 

Judith came to Shabbat almost every week, helped prepare the Kiddush lunch, and just before she left for Israel, dropped off a pink prayer book for the Hechts’ 7-year-old daughter, who loves the color, said Yehudis Hecht.

A few dozen community members gathered to pray for the Raanans’ safe return in the days after the Hamas attack.

‘Judith, we’re thinking of you. Of your resilience, your hope, your love, your generosity, your faith and your strength. We know you’re a strong woman and we pray that we see you safely very soon with your dear Natalie,’ Yehudis Hecht said at the event.

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