Rescued hostage’s mom says her son’s connection with fellow captive ‘strengthened them’

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Aviram Meir (left) and Orit Meir, uncle and mother of rescued hostage Almog Meir Jan, give statements at a press conference at Sheba Medical Center, June 10, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Aviram Meir (left) and Orit Meir, uncle and mother of rescued hostage Almog Meir Jan, give statements at a press conference at Sheba Medical Center, June 10, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

At a press conference at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Orit Meir shares details of her son Almog Meir Jan’s eight-month captivity by Hamas in Gaza, and of his condition as he undergoes rehabilitation at the hospital.

Meir speaks two days after Israeli forces rescued her son, along with fellow hostages Andrey Kozlov, Shlomi Ziv and Noa Argamani, in a heroic mission.

According to Meir, the close connection her son established with Kozlov and Ziv sustained him.

“They were held together for more than half a year [of the eight months they were hostages]… The connection they had with each other strengthened them. They did not give up hope until the moment they were rescued. They kept each other’s spirits up. Almog never gave up his belief that he would make it through the experience of captivity,” Meir says.

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

Meir reports that her son learned Arabic while in Gaza and picked up a bit of news by occasionally being able to listen to, but not watch, Al Jazeera. He returned without a full picture of the war or information about the hostages, and his family and hospital staff are slowly filling him in on the details.

“He also learned Russian because Andrey speaks the language. The three of them had a lot of time to talk among themselves. They are talking together in the hospital and appear to have developed their own language with particular signs,” Meir says.

Meir is relieved that her son returned feeling physically well, but acknowledges that his full recovery will take time.

“It will not be easy. Think about it as though he did not have an identity for those eight months. They took away his freedom. We are giving him the space and power to make decisions for himself. This is very critical. I am sure he has a way to go but he is starting from a good place,” Meir says.

“And don’t forget what we went through yesterday. My son is sitting shiva,” she adds, referring to the death and burial of Almog Meir Jan’s father and Orit Meir’s ex-husband, Yossi Jan, who died just hours before being able to hear that his son had been rescued.

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