Israeli military rescues four hostages alive from Gaza, including Noa Argamani

Israeli security forces rescued four hostages during a daytime raid in central Gaza Saturday, including Noa Agramani, who became the face of the hostages taken on Oct. 7 after harrowing video of her abduction was seen around the world.

The hostages have been transferred to the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center near Tel Aviv, where authorities say they are in “good medical condition.”

The rescued hostages are Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, according to a statement issued by The Israel Defense Forces, Israel Securities Authority and the Israel Police.

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Image:
Almog Meir Jan as he arrived by helicopter to the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Israel, on Saturday.Tomer Appelbaum / AP
Image:
Andrey Kozlov, 27, left, had recently immigrated to Israel from Russia when he was abducted.Tomer Appelbaum / AP

They were among those kidnapped by Hamas during the Nova music festival on Oct. 7.

The news was received with jubilation in Israel. On a beach in Tel Aviv, crowds cheered as life guards announced the news over a loud speaker, reading their names one by one.

A video circulating on social media showed Argamani as she reunited with her father. She also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone conversation following her rescue. “I’m very excited,” she said. “I haven’t spoken Hebrew in such a long time.”

Yan Gorjaltsan, a friend of Argamani’s from their hometown of Be’er Sheva told NBC News he and a group of friends were on their way to Tel Aviv to see her. “This is the happiest days of our lives,” he said. “You can’t believe how we’re feeling.”

The rescue came as pressure was building for Netanyahu to strike a deal for the release of the hostages, with thousands of people protesting regularly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum, which advocates for the release of the hostages, called the rescue a “miraculous” triumph, adding that the government should “bring back all 120 hostages still held by Hamas,” and called on Hamas to accept the cease-fire deal proposed by President Joe Biden. 

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid called the rescue “A great light in a terrible darkness” and welcomed the hostages back.

Argamani, a data science engineering student, was captured screaming as she was carried away on the back of a motorcycle, in a roughly 10-second clip that became a symbol of Israel’s hostage crisis.

For her loved ones, efforts to free her felt like a race against time, as her mother, Liora, has terminal brain cancer. Argamani turned 26 while in captivity. Her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, is believed to remain in Gaza.

Almog Meir Jan was released from military service months before the attack, according to the Times of Israel. He tried to flee the festival with a friend, but only made it a short distance before he was captured.

Image:
Shlomi Ziv, in an undated photo from the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.AP

Shlomi Ziv was working as a security guard at Nova and had called his sisters while attempting to flee.

Andrey Kozlov recently moved to Israel from Russia, and had also been working as a security guard at the festival.

Saturday’s operation is the second time the IDF has rescued hostages alive from Gaza since Oct. 7. In February, two hostages were rescued from the southern city of Rafah during an overnight mission.

In May, the bodies of three hostages were recovered from the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza. 

Hamas captured some 250 hostages during the Oct. 7 attacks. Roughly half were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November and Israel says more than 130 remain, with about a quarter of those believed dead.


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