IDF airs footage from conclusion of hostage rescue op

Freed hostage Andrey Kozlov reunites with family after rescue from Gaza

Kozlov said to be doing relatively well, speaking to family; Noa Argamani meets with mother Liora, who has terminal brain cancer and is said to have barely recognized her daughter

Andrey Kozlov (C), freed from Gaza in an Israeli military operation a day earlier, meets with his parents at Sheba Medical Center, June 9, 2024. (Hostage and Missing Families Forum)
Andrey Kozlov (C), freed from Gaza in an Israeli military operation a day earlier, meets with his parents at Sheba Medical Center, June 9, 2024. (Hostage and Missing Families Forum)

Rescued hostage Andrey Kozlov was reunited with his parents on Sunday morning at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan after he was rescued from captivity in central Gaza during a heoric daylight operation a day earlier.

Kozlov, 27, was rescued from Gaza’s Nuseirat camp, along with Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, and Shlomi Ziv. The four were 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.

Kozlov’s parents, who live in Russia, departed for Israel from Saint Petersburg on Saturday evening with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry and landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday morning. From there, they headed straight to Sheba Medical Center, where Kozlov is undergoing treatment along with Meir Jan and Ziv.

Although Argamani was initially treated at Sheba as well, she was transferred to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital in order to be closer to her mother Liora, who is being treated for terminal brain cancer.

In a statement to the press from inside Sheba, Kozlov’s father Mikhail Kozlov described him as being in “relatively good condition,” and said he was “talking and sharing what happened with us.

He added that Andrey’s thoughts for his family and partner Jenifer Master “were what kept him together during his captivity, every day he thought of his family.”

The parents of rescued Israeli-Russian hostage Andrey Kozlov at the airport in Saint Petersburg on their way to Israel, June 8, 2024. (Israeli Foreign Ministry)

Kozlov, who moved from Russia to Israel some 18 months prior to October 7, had been held with Meir Jan and Ziv throughout the eight months of captivity, and the three of them learned to lean on one another for support and companionship, Meir Jan’s sister said at a news conference on Sunday.

“They supported one another, even down to the level of telling each other stories and helping each other shave, the little things,” Geut Elgrabli said. “Andrey taught them Russian and they learned Arabic together and kept each other busy.”

Elgrabli said Meir Jan was strengthened by the coverage of the weekly hostage deal demonstrations in Israel each week, and called for the protest to continue in full force.

“What kept Almog alive in captivity was faith. He watched Al Jazeera and he knew that he was being fought for,” she said.

Rescued hostage Almog Meir Jan is reunited with his family at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Yanai Eliyahu, a relative of Shlomi Ziv, said that the bond Ziv had developed with Meir Jan and Kozlov was “a relationship built for life.”

“They went through the most difficult experiences imaginable,” he said, using the opportunity to offer up a prayer for the safe return of the 120 hostages still in captivity.

Rescued hostage Shlomi Ziv is reunited with his family at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF on Sunday released new footage on Sunday which shows the moment when Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman notified the chief of staff that the three men had been extracted.

“Chief of staff, I want to report to you that the three diamonds have departed [by helicopter] from the helipad just now toward the country,” Finkelman is heard saying in the video, using a codeword for hostages Meir Jan, Kozlov and Ziv.

The military said that the Paratroopers Brigade aided in extracting the special forces with the rescued hostages, bringing them to a makeshift helipad in Gaza, where they were then airlifted to Israel.

The military also released headcam footage which it said came from a soldier in the Navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit, showing the moment when the rescued hostages were brought to a helipad to be airlifted to Israel.

At the same time as the rescued hostages were brought to the helipad, the IDF said members of the Air Force’s elite Shaldag and 669 units worked to treat wounded Yamam officer Ch. Insp. Arnon Zmora, who was fatally shot by Hamas terrorists guarding three of the four hostages.

Zmora died upon arriving at a hospital in Israel, and the rescue mission was later named “Operation Arnon” in his honor.

Speaking to Army Radio on Sunday, Yaakov Argamani, Noa’s father, said that the meeting between his daughter and wife on Saturday night had been very difficult.

“Unfortunately her mother is in a very difficult situation,” he said tearfully. “Her mother barely looked at Noa. This was not the reaction I was hoping for the meeting after eight months. It was very difficult.”

He said, however, that he believed Liora understood what was happening.

“There was a response, or half a response. She understood but was unable to convey her emotions and can’t say what she has really been waiting to say to [Noa] when she saw her,” he said.

Rescued hostage Noa Argamani is reunited with her father Yaakov Argamani at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Liora had previously said that her last wish was to see her daughter again, and had appealed repeatedly throughout Noa’s captivity for her to be released before it was too late.

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.

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