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Clockwise from top left: Almog Meir Jan, Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv and Andrey Kozlov, the four rescued hostages. PA
Gaza

'It means the world': Four hostages captured by Hamas at Nova festival have been rescued alive

The four people are said to be in a good medical condition.

LAST UPDATE | 8 Jun

THE ISRAELI MILITARY has said its troops have rescued four Israeli hostages alive from Gaza after a “complex daytime operation”.

The army named the rescued hostages as Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41.

All four were kidnapped by Hamas militants from the Nova music festival on 7 October, the military said in a statement, adding the four had been taken to hospital and were in “good medical condition”.

Footage posted on social media by Israeli authorities showed Argamani in an emotional reunion with her father after her rescue.

Argamani was also seen smiling and speaking on the phone with President Isaac Herzog in footage aired on Israeli television.

Israeli army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the operation took place in two separate buildings “in the heart of a civilian neighbourhood”.

“While under fire inside the buildings, under fire on the way out from Gaza, our forces rescued our hostages,” Hagari said in a televised statement.

Hagari said the hostages were kept in two buildings in Nuseirat refugee camp that were three to four stories high, making it “impossible to reach without going through civilians”.

“There were families and guards” in the buildings, he told journalists in an online briefing.

Argamani was held in one apartment and the other three were together in another in a nearby location, Hagari said.

Targeting just one of the apartments was risky, he said, which is why two simultaneous operations were conducted.

“We surprised them at Noa’s building,” he said, but the rescue team came under fire in the other apartment holding the three men.

kiryat-ono-israel-08th-june-2024-relatives-of-released-hostages-arrive-to-tel-hashomer-sheba-hospital-the-israel-defense-forces-idf-said-on-saturday-that-it-had-rescued-four-israeli-hostages Relatives of released hostages arrive to Tel Hashomer (Sheba) hospital Alamy Alamy

An Israeli soldier who was wounded in the operation has since died.

The operation took place around 11am (8am GMT).

“The message this morning to Hamas is clear: we are determined to bring back home all the hostages.”

Also today, Hamas reported that more than 200 people had been killed and hundreds more wounded during bombardments on the Nuseirat refugee camp as part of the operation that freed the Israeli hostages. 

Hamas’ press office described the attack as a “massacre”.

‘It means the world’

The rare rescue comes eight months into the war on Gaza, which has now killed 36,801 people, mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on X: “Noa, Almog, Andrey and Shlomi – we are overjoyed to have you home.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he had sent messages to the families of Ziv and Argamani.

“I just sent messages to the families of Noa Argamani and Shalomi Ziv, who I received last week, to express my relief that they and two other hostages are now free,” he wrote on X. 

“I renew my appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and for an end to this war.”

Argamani’s father posted a video expressing his thanks to the Israeli army and government for bringing his daughter home. 

“Let us not forget that there are still 120 hostages; we must release them,” he said. 

Footage widely shared on social media showed beachgoers in Israel’s coastal commercial hub of Tel Aviv erupting into cheers after a lifeguard announced the release of the four hostages over a loudspeaker.

Hilla Israeli, a 39-year-old teacher, said she was relaxing by the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel when she heard the news.

“In an instant everyone started pulling their phones, people came out of the water, shouts of joy came from different directions,” she said.

“I cried so much from excitement – I couldn’t stop the tears.”

Uriya Bekenstein, 42, said it was “a very emotional day”.

“We have had these hostages in our thoughts for every day for the better part of a year now – to have even a few of them rescued against all odds, it means the world.”

andrey-kozlov-27-one-of-four-hostages-who-were-kidnapped-in-a-hamas-led-attack-on-oct-7-2023-and-was-just-rescued-arrives-by-helicopter-to-the-sheba-medical-center-in-ramat-gan-israel-saturday Andrey Kozlov, 27, one of four hostages rscues Alamy Alamy

During the Hamas-led 7 October attack on southern Israel, militants took 251 hostages, 116 of whom now remain in the Palestinian territory, including 41 the army says are dead.

As one of the members the Hostage amd Missing Families Forum in Israel told The Journal recently, the group has called for the Israeli Government to secure the release of all hostages through negotiations. 

The issue of the remaining hostages in Gaza has led to huge protests that have also heard calls for Netanyahu to resign and call early elections. 

In a post on X, the families group said; “We all felt an enormous joy when we heard they were coming back. Now we need 120 more moments like that for the 120 hostages still held captive by Hamas in Gaza. Say YES to the Netanyahu deal, which will bring them home, Now!”

In February, another rescue mission freed two hostages, but the health ministry in Gaza said heavy air strikes that accompanied that mission killed around 100 people in Rafah, southern Gaza.

This evening, Netanyahu called on coalition member in the emergency government – and political – rival Benny Gantz not to quit the government. 

“I call on Benny Gantz – do not leave the emergency government. Don’t give up on unity,” Netanyahu said on X, after Gantz had cancelled a planned news conference today where Israeli media had speculated he would announce his resignation.

people-protest-against-israeli-prime-minister-benjamin-netanyahus-government-and-call-for-the-release-of-hostages-held-in-the-gaza-strip-by-the-hamas-militant-group-in-tel-aviv-israel-saturday-ju People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Meanwhile, thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv once again, demanding the Government agree to the ceasefire proposal recently touted by US President Joe Biden. Many have also called for Netanyahu to resign. 

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that police have used water cannons to disperse crowds and that some arrests have been made

With reporting from AFP.

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