‘You made me the strong person I am,’ says ex-hostage Noa Argamani at mother’s funeral

Liora Argamani laid to rest 3.5 weeks after daughter’s rescue from Gaza; Noa thanks her for holding on so they could be reunited one last time ‘against all odds’

Released hostage Noa Argamani attends the funeral of her mother, Liora Argamani, at a cemetery in Beersheba, southern Israel, on July 2, 2024. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)
Released hostage Noa Argamani attends the funeral of her mother, Liora Argamani, at a cemetery in Beersheba, southern Israel, on July 2, 2024. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

Liora Argamani, mother of rescued hostage Noa Argamani, was laid to rest in Beersheba on Tuesday afternoon after she died following a lengthy battle with brain cancer during, which she nevertheless campaigned tirelessly to see her only child again before it was too late.

Speaking at her mother’s funeral, Noa, who was rescued from Hamas captivity in Gaza during a daring daylight operation three-and-a-half weeks ago, said she was grateful to have been by her mother’s side during her last moments and to ensure that her father wouldn’t be left alone.

“My mother, the best friend there is, the strongest and most beautiful person I’ve ever known. I’m standing here today and it’s still hard for me to accept it,” Noa said in front of a packed room. “Against all odds, I was privileged to be with you in your last moments and to hear your last words.

“Thank you for being strong and holding on so that I could see you at least one more time, and so that Dad wouldn’t be left alone,” she said. “Thank you for the 26 years I was privileged to spend by your side. I learned so much from you. You took me to travel around the world with you and made me the strong person I am today.

“The tools that you gave me as a child are tools I couldn’t have acquired anywhere else,” Noa continued. “Every time things were difficult, you pushed me forward. I promise you that I will continue to follow your path. I promise you that I will take care of Dad. I promise you that I will be strong just like you.”

Noa was kidnapped from the Supernova music festival on October 7, along with her partner Avinatan Or, who remains in captivity. She was rescued from central Gaza on June 8, along with three other hostages, by Israeli special forces.

Footage of her abduction, in which she was seen screaming as her Hamas captor drove her away on the back of a motorcycle while Or was held back, became some of the most well-known footage of the October 7 terror onslaught, in which some 1,200 people were massacred and 251 were taken as hostages.

Liora, 61, had publicly appealed in November for her daughter’s release, saying she did not have long to live and wanted to see Noa before she died. She also gave media interviews and wrote letters to world leaders in which she asked for their help.

She passed away at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where she had been undergoing treatment, early on Tuesday morning. In a statement, the hospital said that she had spent her final days alongside her daughter.

Rescued hostage Noa Argamani (left) with her mother Liora, in an undated photo prior to Noa’s abduction by Hamas on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

“Mom, you will always be with me, no matter where I go and no matter who I meet,” Noa eulogized. “Like you taught me when I was a little girl — I love you to the sky and back.”

Liora’s sister Yu, who came to Israel from China to be by her sister’s side and then to pay her final farewell, recalled her as “a younger sister who was always an inspiring figure. She was smart and full of energy for life and for her work… myself, my mother and my brothers hope she will have a beautiful life in heaven.”

Released hostage Noa Argamani, second from left, attends the funeral of her mother, Liora Argamani, along with her father Yaakov, left, and her mother’s sister Yu, third from left, at the cemetery in Beersheba, July 2, 2024. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

Yaakov Argamani, Noa’s father, who celebrated his birthday on the same day in which his daughter was rescued, thanked his wife for “our shared life, love and friendship.”

“Thank you for your wise advice. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you, Liora, for making me a much better person,” he said. “I thank God for the time I spent by your side — three decades together during the most difficult of times.

“Now that the gates of heaven are open, I have two requests,” he added. “Please keep her for me. Take care of her up there, and make sure it’s nothing but good. And go, my beloved Liora, wait for me to arrive — and we will continue to be together forever.”

Most Popular
read more: