Israelis rejoice over news of successful mission to rescue 4 hostages from Gaza

Public celebrations in Israel and beyond after IDF frees Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meri Jan and Andrey Kozlov

Israelis celebrate in Athens, Greece after hearing of the rescue of hostages Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan, and Andrey Kozlov, June 8, 2024. (Twitter, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Israelis celebrate in Athens, Greece after hearing of the rescue of hostages Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan, and Andrey Kozlov, June 8, 2024. (Twitter, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The families of the four hostages rescued Saturday celebrated with other Israeli families after the military announced that it had rescued Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv from Hamas captivity in Gaza.

Speaking to the press outside Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan after his reunion with his daughter Noa, Yaakov Argamani recited a prayer of thanks for her return.

“Today is my birthday, and look what a gift I got,” he said, thanking everyone involved in the rescue.

He also told the press that the other hostages must not be forgotten and encouraged Israelis to attend a rally at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv that was planned for Saturday evening.

Speaking to Ynet from a weekend retreat for hostages’ relatives, Meir Jan’s mother expressed her excitement and gratitude to the Israel Defense Forces, adding that she hoped the rest of the hostages would come home soon.

“I’m in a rush, I have to see him in the hospital,” she said before encouraging the protesters to keep demonstrating for a deal to bring home the remaining hostages.

Israeli hostages pictured after their rescue from Hamas captivity in Gaza on June 8, 2024. From left: Shlomi Ziv (IDF); Andrey Kozlov and Almog Meir Jan (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90), and Noa Argamani (Courtesy)

A video posted on social media showed Meir Jan’s parents being led out of the packed lobby of the hotel where they were staying, as the crowd sang “Am Israel Chai” (The people of Israel live).

In another video, a large group of Meir Jan’s friends could be seen on a video call with him, calling out his name and cheering as one of them held up the phone before the crowd.

“We love you, Almog,” one friend could be heard saying.

A man holds an Israeli flag as Israelis gather inside Ramat Gan’s Sheba Medical Center, where four Israeli hostages were transferred after their rescue from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip, June 8, 2024 (Jack Guez/AFP)

Meanwhile, Ziv’s wife was filmed calling her husband as she made her way to see him at Sheba Medical Center.

In the video, she could be heard telling him that she loved him and that he was her hero, as they both cried tears of joy. In response to her asking if he wanted her to bring him anything, Ziv said he only wanted his family to come to be with him.

His cousin-in-law, Yanai Eliyahu, told Ynet that Ziv and his wife practically raised him. “I heard about Shlomi’s rescue and I’m shaking from excitement. There are not enough words to describe my joy,” he said.

“Shlomi’s wife always believed that he would come home. She had that faith. He was in the hands of monsters for a long time and it’s difficult for us to know what he’s been through. Now I’m just waiting to see and hug him.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum praised “the IDF’s heroic operation” in a statement, calling it a victory for Israel.

“Even now, especially amid the joy that has washed over the State of Israel, the government must remember its obligation to get back the 120 hostages that are still held by Hamas,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, videos shared on social media showed Israelis celebrating in Israel and abroad.

Lifeguards on multiple beaches in Israel declared the successful rescue mission to beachgoers over loudspeakers, in announcements that were met with heavy applause and cheering.

Other videos shot in Greece, a popular holiday destination for Israelis, showed large crowds celebrating and singing the Israeli national anthem and “Am Israel Chai” in multiple locations in the country.

The four hostages were rescued in an operation on Saturday morning. Officers of police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit, along with Shin Bet agents, simultaneously raided two Hamas buildings in the heart of central Gaza’s Nuseirat, rescuing Argamani from one and the three men from the other.

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. 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.

Hamas is also 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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