Close-knit Argentine-Israeli community ‘relieved’ as hostages come home

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Tuesday’s release of 10 Israeli hostages from Gaza comes as a relief specifically to the tight-knit community of Argentinian Jews in Israel, their representative says, noting that four of the newly released hail from the Latin American country.

“Like all of Israel, we are breathing a small sigh of relief over the release but we worry about the remaining hostages and the prospect of a return to terrorism by the 30 prisoners that Israel released in return for the freedom,” says Mario Lev, the president of the OLEI association of Spanish-speaking immigrants to Israel.

The four Argentinians released Tuesday, all of whom were abducted by Hamas terrorists from Nir Oz on October 7, are Ofelia Roitman, Clara Marman, Gabriela Leimberg and her daughter Mia, who is 17. On Monday, at least five Argentinian citizens were among 11 Israelis freed.

Of the hostages still in Gaza, about 30 are from Latin America, Mario Lev tells The Times of Israel.

“This is no coincidence: Many of the kibbutzim in the northern Negev were either established by immigrants from Argentina and Latin America or have a sizable representation of our community,” Lev says.

Especially among the Boomer-aged Argentinians, “the community is incredibly tight-knit because we all went to Zionist youth movements together,” says Lev, 77. “We all know each other quite well. It’s why the hostage issue hurt our community especially, and why this is such a relief now.”

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