Father of hostage Almog Meir Jan died hours before son’s rescue: ‘He died of grief’

Freed hostage’s aunt says she rushed to brother’s home to tell him good news, only to find him dead; describes how Yossi Jan closed himself off, lost 20 kilos after son’s abduction

Rescued hostage Almog Meir Jan is reunited with his family at Sheba Medical Center, June 8, 2024. (IDF)
Rescued hostage Almog Meir Jan is reunited with his family at Sheba Medical Center, June 8, 2024. (IDF)

The father of rescued hostage Almog Meir Jan, 21, died hours before he could learn his son was coming home on Saturday.

Meir Jan, along with Noa Argamani, 26, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, was rescued Saturday in a stunning daytime operation in Gaza’s Nuseirat camp.

“My brother died of grief and didn’t get to see his son return. The night before Almog’s return, my brother’s heart stopped,” Almog’s aunt Dina Jan told the Kan public broadcaster Sunday.

“We are very happy about Almog’s return, but the brain is unable to absorb that this is the end. We are broken,” she said, explaining that her brother lived alone in Kfar Saba.

“Yossi, my brother, Almog’s father, was glued to the television for the whole eight months, clinging to every piece of information,” she said.

“He loved Almog so much, cared for him so much, wanted to know what was happening to him and what he was going through. He could not bear it, every [potential hostage deal] that exploded in his face broke his heart,” she said.

“He lost 20 kilos, he couldn’t bear it in any way,” she said. “He closed himself off, didn’t want to see people. Everyone was worried about Yossi, but he wasn’t able to communicate with anyone.”

Dina said she had received a phone call from the army telling her that her nephew had been rescued, and the officer told her they had been unable to reach Yossi.

“I was so happy I didn’t know what to do,” she told Kan, and said that she went to her brother’s home to tell him the good news.

“I drove like crazy, I knocked, ‘Yossi, Yossi, Yossi,’ and nothing. I got no answer. The door of his house was open and I saw him sleeping in the living room. I screamed ‘Yossi’ to him and he didn’t answer me. I saw the color of his skin, I touched him, but he was dead,” she said.

Yossi Jan, who died at the age of 57, will be buried at 5:30 p.m. at the Neve Yamin cemetery.

Speaking to Army Radio, Orit Meir, Almog’s mother, said that her son was doing okay, but there was “a road ahead” to his full recovery.

She said her son’s captors had updated him a bit on events, and that he knew about weekly demonstrations calling for the release of hostages, as well as debates over drafting ultra-Orthodox men to the military.

“He had a kind of calendar, a diary, and knew how many days he was there. He knew that I had a birthday today, and he knew a month ago that he had a birthday,” she said.

Rescued hostage Shlomi Ziv at Sheba Medical Center, June 8, 2024 (IDF)

Shlomi Ziv’s cousin Liel Ariel described her shock at the rescue operation.

“Shlomi saw everyone, recognized everyone. I hugged him, I almost choked him, I screamed next to him. And then he told me to shush,” Ariel told Kan, describing meeting her cousin at the hospital.

Meanwhile, the parents of rescued hostage Andrey Kozolov landed in Israel from Russia Sunday morning.

“I am the happiest I’ve ever been. We talked to Andrey, he looks and feels fine, he is even joking around,” his mother told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport, before being whisked away to meet her son at Sheba Medical Center.

Andrey Kozlov (C), freed from Gaza in an Israeli military operation yesterday, meets with his parents at Sheba Medical Center, June 7, 2024. (Hostage and Missing Families Forum)

The four rescued hostages were all abducted from the Supernova music festival near the community of Re’im on the morning of October 7, when some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists killed 1,200 people and took 251 hostages in a murderous rampage in southern Israel.

Following Saturday’s rescue, 116 of the 251 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 still remain in Gaza, not all of them alive. A weeklong truce in late November saw 105 civilians released from Hamas captivity and four hostages were released before that.

In all, seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 41 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person has been listed as missing since October 7, and her fate is still unknown, although her family believes she is dead.

Hamas has also been holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

Most Popular
read more: