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

8 June 2024, 16:24

Israel Palestinians
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

The rescue operation came amid a major Israeli air and ground offensive in central Gaza that has killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians.

The four captives rescued by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Saturday had been abducted from a desert rave near the border during Hamas’ wide-ranging assault into Israel on October 7.

One had emerged as the face of the agonising hostage crisis that is still far from over.

Noa Argamani, 25, appeared in a series of videos that captured the painful trajectory of their plight.

In the first, filmed by the attackers, she is being forced onto a motorbike by several men after being seized with her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, whose whereabouts are still unknown.

“Don’t kill me,” she screamed with one arm outstretched, the other pinned down.

Israel Palestinians
Andrey Kozlov (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

In another video released by Hamas in mid-January, she appeared gaunt and spoke — almost certainly under duress — of other hostages being killed in airstrikes months into Israel’s massive offensive.

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

“I want to see her one more time. Talk to her one more time,” Liora Argamani, 61, said. “I don’t have a lot of time left in this world.”

On Saturday, after eight months of captivity, Israeli forces rescued Ms 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 came amid a major Israeli air and ground offensive in central Gaza that has killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians, including at least 94 on Saturday.

Israel Palestinians
Almog Meir Jan (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

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

Almog Meir Jan, a 21-year-old from a small town near Tel Aviv, had finished his army service three months earlier, according to the Times of Israel, an English-language Israeli website.

Andrey Kozlov, 27, was working 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, 40, from a farming community in northern Israel, was working as an usher and had gone to the party with two friends who were both killed, the Times of Israel reported.

Israel Palestinians
Shlomi Ziv (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

The Israel Hayom newspaper said he and his wife of 17 years had been trying to have children.

Ms Argamani began dating Mr Or about two years ago after they met while attending Ben-Gurion University in her hometown of Beersheba and were planning to move in together in Tel Aviv, his mother told Israel’s Ynet news website.

She said her son had majored in electrical engineering and had been hired by the international tech giant Nvidia.

Yonatan Levi, a friend of Ms Argamani, described her as a smart, free spirit who loved parties and travelling and was studying computer science.

He said he had met her at a diving course in the Israeli city of Eilat on the Red Sea, and that a few months before her abduction she had asked him for help navigating insurance claims for her mother’s care.

Hamas and other militants killed some 1,200 people in the October 7 attack and captured around 250 others, including men, women, children and older adults.

More than 100, mostly women and children, were freed in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel during a week-long ceasefire last year.

More than 36,700 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, according to local health officials, who do not distinguish between fighters and civilians.

Israeli authorities believe the militants are still holding around 120 hostages, with 43 pronounced dead. Survivors include about 15 women, two children under the age of five and two men in their 80s.

By Press Association

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