GENEVA (Reuters) — Suffering from terminal brain cancer, the mother of Israeli hostage Noa Argamani just wants a chance to hug her daughter one last time and bid her farewell.
Argamani, 26, has been held hostage in Gaza since she was kidnapped along with her boyfriend Avinatan Or from the Supernova festival near Kibbutz Re’im in the Negev Desert on the morning of October 7.
She became one of the faces of the hostage crisis when footage of her abduction by two Palestinian terrorists on a motorcycle emerged online. In the footage, a distraught Argamani shouts: “Don’t kill me!”
Yaffa Ohad, Argamani’s aunt, says she fears time is running out for both her niece and sister-in-law.
“The illness is very serious, progressing at a fast pace. I very much hope that time will not run out for her to see Noa,” Ohad said of her sister-in-law Liora, tears welling up in her eyes.
“I’ve been looking at her for four months and I know that her emotional state greatly affects her physical state. And I’m very worried about her life. The longer Noa doesn’t come back, it affects her for the worse.”
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in Gaza after the terror group led the October 7 rampage through Israeli towns, killing around 1,200 people, and dragging 253 hostages back to the Palestinian enclave.
In response, Israel launched an offensive that has displaced most of Gaza’s 2.3 million population and killed more than 27,000 people, according to Hamas-controlled medical authorities, whose unverified figures do not differentiate between civilians and combatants, and are also believed to include Palestinians killed by rockets that terror groups misfired. It also has caused acute shortages of food, water and medicine.
Liora Argamani’s advanced illness and her appeal to US President Joe Biden in December to help her hug Noa, her only child, one last time, has moved the Israeli public.
“Liora is waiting, hoping that she will be able to see her, be with her even for just an hour. To hug her and then say goodbye,” Ohad said.
Argamani’s aunt and the families of other hostages were in Geneva on Tuesday to meet with United Nations officials, as well as the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric.
Some have accused international organizations and the Israeli government of not doing enough to have the hostages return.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the families of hostages last week that a “real effort” was being made towards their return, but that it was too early to say how such a move would play out.
“We need to live in peace and reach an agreement, to continue living (in peace),” Ohad said. “Because wars have always led to suffering and sorrow.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.