Rescued hostage Andrey Kozlov calls for hostage deal in recorded message at Tel Aviv rally

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

Andrey Kozlov says he and the four hostages rescued by Israeli troops from Hamas on June 8 saw images from weekly rallies for their return.

“Nearly every Saturday night they showed us rallies from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I didn’t count how many people were there but we saw many,” Kozlov says in a recorded message aired to thousands of people at the weekly rally in Tel Aviv.

“I remember how Almog [Meir Jan] saw his picture for the first time [on a poster at the rally] and it was like a breath of fresh air for him. You put in so much effort and time into getting us back home and it gave me hope. You are heroes.”

He calls on the government to “make a deal” with Hamas, which is demanding a permanent ceasefire, among other demands, as a prerequisite for returning the 120 hostages still held in Gaza, many of them not alive.

Rotem Calderon, whose father Ofer is held hostage in Gaza, says at the rally: “The people of Israel died on October 7 and will be revived only when everyone is back. A deal now. Love you dad.”

Michal Lubnov, whose husband Alex is presumed to be held hostage, notes that Father’s Day will be celebrated on June 21 and that Saturday’s rally focuses on men and fathers in captivity in Gaza.

“It’s Father’s Day and Alex doesn’t even know he has a boy,” she says, holding back tears. She gave birth in February to the couple’s second child, Kai, and their firstborn, who is two-and-a-half years old, is potty trained and learning to ride a bicycle, she adds, listing moments that her husband has missed.

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