Israel rescues 4 hostages in Gaza in largest recovery operation since Oct. 7 

World News

By Lorenz Duchamps 
Contributing Writer 

The Israeli military on Saturday rescued four hostages in a “high-risk” operation deep inside the Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces. 

In a video posted on the social media platform X, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari identified the rescued individuals as Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40. 

All four captives were in good medical condition and were taken to Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center in Tel Aviv for further examination before being reunited with their loved ones after 246 days in Hamas captivity, he said. 

The military spokesman noted that all four had been “brutally kidnapped” from the Nova Musical Festival in southern Israel during the attack by Hamas-led terrorists on Oct. 7 that sparked the ongoing war. 

Israeli forces relied on “precise intelligence” to carry out the rescue operation conducted in daylight at about 11 a.m. local time in two separate buildings, he said. 

“While under fire inside the buildings, under fire on the way out from Gaza, our forces rescued our hostages,” Hagari said, adding that one Israeli special forces soldier was “critically wounded” during the operation. 

Saturday’s rescue operation is the largest recovery effort of living captives since the war started. A total of seven people have been rescued by Israeli forces so far. 

According to the Israeli government, two men were rescued in February and a woman was rescued in the aftermath of the Oct. 7, 2023, attack. Israeli forces have recovered at least 16 bodies of hostages. 

Netanyahu Meets with Hostage Survivors 

In a video posted on X, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen meeting the rescued captives at Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center. 

“Noa, Shlomi, Almog, and Andrey — welcome back home. With God’s help and thanks to our fighters, we will return all our abductees,” Netanyahu wrote in the caption of the post. 

Argamani had been one of the most widely recognized hostages after being abducted from the music festival. A video of her abduction was among the first to surface, showing her between two men on a motorcycle as she screamed, “Don’t kill me!” 

In another video posted on Netanyahu’s X account, an elated Argamani told the Israeli leader by phone that she was “very excited,” saying she hadn’t heard Hebrew in so long. 

Argamani’s mother, Liora, has been grappling with stage four brain cancer. Earlier this year, she released a video pleading to see her daughter before she dies. 

IDF Committed to Bringing Back Remaining Hostages 

“Israel does not surrender to terrorism and acts with creativity and boldness that knows no bounds to bring home our abductees,” Netanyahu said in a statement. 

Hamas took some 250 hostages during the Oct. 7, 2023, attack that killed more than 1,200 people. 

Israel believes that about 120 of them are still being held in the Palestinian enclave, while at least 43 have been pronounced dead by authorities. 

Survivors include about 15 women, two children under the age of 5, and two men in their 80s. 

The latest rescue operation occurred amid pressure from the Biden administration for the Israeli government to accept a proposed three-part deal for a cease-fire in exchange for Hamas releasing the remainder of the hostages. 

President Joe Biden, in France for a state visit that included talks about the Middle East, celebrated the return of the hostages at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. 

“We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a cease-fire is reached,” the president said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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