Who are the four hostages rescued from captivity in Gaza by Israeli forces? | World news


The four prisoners rescued by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Saturday had been abducted from a desert rave near the border during Hamas’s massive attack on Israel on October 7. One had emerged as an icon of the painful hostage crisis that was far from over.

Noa Argamani, 26, appeared in a series of videos that captured the painful journey of their plight.

In the first film, filmed by the attackers, she is forced onto a motorcycle by several men after being captured along with her boyfriend Avinatan Or, whose whereabouts are still unknown. “Don’t kill me!” she shouted, one arm outstretched, the other clutched.

In another video posted by Hamas in mid-January, she appeared emaciated and spoke – almost certainly under duress – about other hostages killed in airstrikes months after Israel’s massive offensive.

And then there was a third video, in which she appeared in the background of family photos as her mother, a Chinese immigrant to Israel who has stage four brain cancer, begged her captors to release her only child so she could see her before she dies.

‘I want to see her again. Talk to her again,” said Liora Argamani, 61. “I don’t have much time left in this world.”

On Saturday, after eight months of captivity, Israeli forces rescued Argamani and three men who had all been kidnapped from the Tribe of Nova music festival, where Hamas and other militants killed more than 350 people in the worst massacre in Israel’s history.

The rescue operation took place amid a major Israeli air and ground offensive in central Gaza, killing and wounding hundreds of Palestinians, including at least 94 on Saturday.

Less is publicly known about the other three hostages rescued on Saturday.

Almog Meir Jan, 22, from a small town near Tel Aviv, had ended his military service three months earlier, according to the Times of Israel, an English-language Israeli website. A forum set up by families of the hostages said he would start working at a technology company the day after the attack.

Andrey Kozlov, 27, worked as a security guard at the festival. He had immigrated to Israel alone a year and a half earlier, and his mother came to the country after October 7, Israeli media reported.

Shlomi Ziv, 41, from a farming community in northern Israel, worked as a security guard and had gone to the party with two friends who were both killed, the Times of Israel reported. Israel Hayom newspaper said he and his wife, who were already 17 years old, were trying to have children.

The hostage family forum confirmed their ages and said Argamani, Meir Jan and Ziv had celebrated birthdays in captivity. The military had previously reported their ages when they were abducted.

Argamani started dating Or about two years ago after they met while studying at Ben-Gurion University in her hometown of Beersheba and planned to live together in Tel Aviv, his mother told Israeli news website Ynet. She said her son had studied electrical engineering and was hired by international technology giant Nvidia.

Yonatan Levi, a friend of Argamani, described her as a smart, free spirit who loved parties and traveling and studied computer science. He said he met her during a diving course in the Israeli Red Sea city of Eilat, and that she asked him for help navigating insurance claims for her mother’s care a few months before her kidnapping.

Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people and captured about 250 others, including men, women, children and older adults, in the Oct. 7 attack. More than 100, mostly women and children, were released in exchange for Palestinians jailed by Israel during a weeklong ceasefire last year.

Last month, Hamas released an audio recording, purportedly from Argamani, calling on Israelis to pressure the government to secure the hostages’ return through another deal.

More than 36,700 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to local health officials, who make no distinction between fighters and civilians.

Israeli authorities believe the militants are still holding about 120 hostages, with 43 dead. The survivors include about fifteen women, two children under the age of five and two men in their eighties.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.