With laughter and tears, rescued hostages reunite with their loved ones in Israel

Families of Noa Argamani, Shlomo Ziv, Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov thank IDF for their return, call for Israel to do everything it can to bring back remaining 120 captives

Israeli hostages pictured reuniting with family after their rescue from Hamas captivity in Gaza on June 8, 2024. Top L-R: Almog Meir Jan with his family, Noa Argamani with her father. (Israel Defense Forces) Bottom L-R: Shlomo Ziv reunites with his sister and cousin (Hostages and Missing Families Forum), Andrey Kozlov meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Maayan Toaf / GPO)
Israeli hostages pictured reuniting with family after their rescue from Hamas captivity in Gaza on June 8, 2024. Top L-R: Almog Meir Jan with his family, Noa Argamani with her father. (Israel Defense Forces) Bottom L-R: Shlomo Ziv reunites with his sister and cousin (Hostages and Missing Families Forum), Andrey Kozlov meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Maayan Toaf / GPO)

Four hostages who were rescued alive on Saturday from Hamas captivity were reunited with their loved ones at Ramat Gan’s Sheba Medical Center, hours after the daring daylight operation in central Gaza to free them.

Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, were abducted from the Supernova music festival near the community of Re’im on the morning of October 7, when some 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists killed 1,200 people and took 251 hostages in a murderous rampage in southern Israel.

Argamani was rescued at one site in Gaza’s Nuseirat camp, while Meir Jan, Kozlov, and Ziv were rescued together at another nearby building.

In footage released by the Israel Defense Forces, Noa’s father Yaakov Argamani thanked “the high-quality, humane and most moral army in the world” for rescuing his daughter.

“There’s no army like this in the world,” he added, with his arms around his daughter and standing next to a masked soldier, likely one involved in the rescue operation.

A second video clip released by the IDF showed Kozlov being aided in walking, then sitting, saying that he was aware of weekly Saturday evening demonstrations calling for the hostages’ release. He was later seen embracing fellow rescued hostage Meir Jan, the two of them surrounded by loved ones and medical staff.

Noa Argamani is embraced by her father, Yaakov, at Sheba Medical Center after being rescued from Hamas captivity in Gaza, June 8, 2024. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

As Meir Jan embraced family and friends, one of them can be heard jokingly asking, “How many pitas [did he eat in Gaza]?”

Other friends gathered together to greet him via video call from what appeared to be a different location inside the hospital.

Cheering and jumping with glee, his friends yelled his name as they passed the phone around to each other. Several blew kisses to him through the phone and shouted that they loved him, as others were seen wiping their eyes.

Almog Meir Jan reunites with his relatives at Sheba Medical Center after being rescued from Hamas captivity alongside Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, and Andrey Kozlov, June 8, 2024. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Later in the evening, Jan was reunited with his friends in person.

In video footage, he can be seen walking over to them, arms outstretched, as they cheer and applaud before rushing to embrace him, chanting “he’s one of us and we will not give him away!”

Before his wife Miran arrived at the hospital, Ziv was reunited with her in another tearful video call.

“My heart, you’re a hero,” Miran said to him, as both of them broke down into tears.

Ziv, who was captured while serving as a security guard for the Supernova music festival asked his wife about the whereabouts of his friend Aviv Eliyahu, who was the security manager of the event and murdered on October 7.

“We will speak about Aviv,” Miran said, before asking if she can bring him anything.

“Just come,” Ziv said in response.

Ziv’s sister, Revital Nasi, made a statement from the hospital in which she thanked the family of Chief Inspector Arnon Zmora, a Yamam officer who was fatally wounded in the operation.

“We are so sorry and just want to say thank you,” she said tearfully in a direct address to Zmora’s family.

Rescued hostage Shlomi Ziv at Sheba Medical Center, June 8, 2024 (IDF)

“We have to bring everyone home, and it can’t always be through military operations,” she said on Channel 12, echoing the hostage families’ calls for a deal with Hamas.

Reuniting with Revital and his cousin Liat, Ziv thanked them for “everything you have done” over the last 246 days as they fought for his release.

After being reunited with his daughter, Yaakov Argamani recited the Jewish Shehecheyanu blessing, which is said on celebratory occasions, and said Noa looked “excellent.”

“But let’s not forget, there are still 120 hostages, and we have to free them,” he said, calling on people to attend the weekly hostage deal protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. “We have to make every effort, in any way we can, to bring them to Israel and to their families.”

 

Yaakov Argamani thanked the IDF and reiterated his call for Israel to do “everything, and as soon as possible” to bring the remaining hostages home.

“Today is my birthday, and what a present I received,” he added.

In a joint statement to the press, the families of the four rescued hostages thanked the security forces who freed their loved ones and expressed their condolences over the loss of Zmora.

Jenifer Master, Kozlov’s partner, also thanked the army and sent condolences to Zmora’s family, and expressed hope the rest of the hostages would return home safely.

“There’s a lot of happiness today, a lot of tears,” said Anna, Kozlov’s aunt, also sending condolences.

Relaying a message from Jan, his mother Orit added: “Almog asked to say: We have a strong nation, thanks very much. I support the soldiers, I hope all the hostages come home safely.”

Speaking from the hospital on Saturday evening after meeting with the freed hostages and their families, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that during his meeting with Kozlov, the freed hostage said he wrote in a notebook every day that he would be reborn, “and that really is what happened.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with rescued hostage Andrey Kozlov at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024 (Maayan Toaf / GPO)

“And I want to repeat and make clear that we will return everyone,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israel is working on more operations to return more captives.

“This is a day of unprecedented emotion for all citizens of Israel and many around the world, and for me personally,” he said.

He added that he had celebrated Yaakov Argamani’s birthday with him and a video clip released by the Prime Minister’s Office showed him joining in as relatives sang “Happy Birthday.”

“I want to repeat and make clear: We will bring them all back. We’re working right now on returning more hostages, on more possibilities. We will return them all,” Netanyahu added.

“This operation was brought for my approval on Thursday evening,” he said. “I knew it was very complex and very dangerous. There’s a hair’s breadth between success and failure. I knew that, but I unhesitatingly approved it nonetheless.”

The prime minister said he did so, “because I have faith in the IDF, the Shin Bet and Israel police” — all of whom were involved in the rescue, which he called “a heroic operation that will be registered in the annals of the people of Israel.”

After initially arriving at Sheba Medical Center with the other three rescued hostages, Noa was transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where her mother Liora is undergoing treatment for stage four brain cancer.

Noa Argamani arrives at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital to be reunited with her mother Liora who has terminal cancer, June 8, 2024 (Ichilov Hospital)

The hospital said that Noa will receive care there while being able to be close to her mother.

Liora is in serious condition, Ichilov director-general Prof. Roni Gamzu said, according to the Ynet news site, but despite that, it was estimated that “yes, Liora understands the situation and Noa’s return.”

Liora had previously said that her last wish was to see her daughter again before it was too late.

“This reunion happened after a lot of anticipation and many months. Noa learned together with the whole family about her mother’s complex condition. Noa herself is in good condition and will of course continue with tests and evaluation,” Gamzu said.

At Ichilov, Yaakov Argamani was greeted with a birthday cake and another rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Rescued hostage Noa Argamani embraces her father Yaakov Argamani as medical staff at Ichilov Hospital sing happy birthday, June 8, 2024. (Courtesy, Ichilov Hospital)

Following Saturday’s rescue, 116 of the 251 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 still remain in Gaza, not all of them alive. A weeklong truce in late November saw 105 civilians released from Hamas captivity and four hostages were released before that.

In all, 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.

One more person has been listed as missing since October 7, and her fate is still unknown, although her family believes she is dead.

Hamas has also been 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.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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