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Israel rescues 4 hostages in 'daring' Gaza op: Noa Argamani's emotional reunion, chat with PM & more (WATCH)

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Saturday successfully rescued four Israeli hostages from Gaza, freeing them from Hamas terrorists and evacuating them to Tel Hashomer hospital in southern Israel.

Israel rescues 4 hostages in 'daring' Gaza op: Noa Argamani's emotional reunion, chat with PM & more (WATCH) snt
First Published Jun 8, 2024, 7:36 PM IST

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Saturday successfully rescued four Israeli hostages from Gaza, freeing them from Hamas terrorists and evacuating them to Tel Hashomer hospital in southern Israel.

The Israeli military, intelligence, and special forces rescued Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, from two separate locations in Nuseirat, the IDF announced. This marks the largest hostage rescue operation since the Gaza War began on in October last year.

All four had been kidnapped from the Nova music festival on October 7, the IDF stated.

"They are in good medical condition and have been transferred to the 'Sheba' Tel-HaShomer Medical Center for further medical examinations," IDF said in a statement. 

Rescuing hostages taken during the Hamas attacks of October 7 remains a primary objective of the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

Following Saturday’s announcement, the total number of hostages still held in the Gaza Strip from October 7 is now 116, with at least 41 confirmed dead.

The rescue news came soon after Israel’s military reported operations in Nuseirat and other areas of central Gaza, where heavy shelling and artillery fire were reported.

According to a spokesperson at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, at least 55 people were killed in the operation in Nuseirat, Deir al-Balah, and al-Zawaideh on Saturday. The spokesperson also noted that the number of injured is so high it is difficult to confirm the exact number.

Hostage rescues are rare: this is only the third successful operation. IDF Corporal Ori Megidish was rescued in October last year from northern Gaza. In another operation on February 12 this year, Fernando Marman and Louis Har were rescued from southern Rafah.

"Now, with the enormous joy all over Israel, the Israeli government must remember its commitment to bring back all 120 hostages still held by Hamas — the living for rehabilitation, the murdered for burial,” wrote Hostage and Missing Families Forum on X.

“We continue to call upon the international community to apply the necessary pressure on Hamas to accept the proposed deal and release the other 120 hostages held in captivity; every day there is a day too far,” it added.

One of the hostages, Noa Argamani, became a symbol of the October 7 attacks after a video showed her shouting and pleading from the seat of a motorbike as a group of Hamas fighters drove away with her. In the video, Argamani’s boyfriend, fellow Israeli citizen Avinatan Or, was also seen being led away and kidnapped by Hamas fighters.

How rescued hostages reacted following the IDF operation

In a video that has gone viral on X, Noa Argamani was seen embracing her father after her release. Another image released shows her reunited with family members at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center.

President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both called rescued hostage Noa Argamani to welcome her home. During the one-minute call, Herzog expressed his excitement at Argamani’s return. The rescued hostage, with a huge smile, thanked the president.

“I embrace you in the name of the entire nation of Israel,” Herzog said.

“I’m so happy to be here,” Argmani responded. “Thank you for everything. Thank you for this moment.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Argamani how she is feeling in their call. “Very excited,” she said, expressing her joy of conversing in Hebrew after so long.

“Hebrew, and at home, which is also important,” the prime minister replied. “We didn’t give up on you for a moment. I don’t know if you believed it, but we believed it, and I am glad it happened.”

“Get better with your family, and hug your mother as well,” Netanyahu said.

In another video rescued hostage Almog Jan was seen reuniting with several of his friends via a video call. “Almog!” his friends yell in unison as they see him for the first time over the phone, jumping with glee and cheering. They pass around the phone, greeting Jan one by one after his 246 days of captivity.

Shlomo Ziv, a rescued hostage, broke into tears during his first video call with his wife after being freed from captivity in the Gaza Strip. “My heart, you hero,” his wife Miran said, crying together with her husband.

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

“We will speak about Aviv,” Miran said. “Should I bring you something?” she asked. “Just come,” he responded.

'Most heroic and extraordinary operation'

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu saluted security forces for their daring mission to rescue four hostages in the central Gaza Strip.

“Once again you have proven that Israel does not surrender to terrorism and acts with creativity and boldness that knows no bounds, to bring home our hostages,” the prime minister said in a statement.

“We are committed to doing so in the future as well. We will not let up until we complete the mission and return all our hostages home – both the living and the dead,” he added.

An officer from the elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit, wounded during the hostage rescue operation in the central Gaza Strip, tragically succumbed to his injuries, the police have confirmed.

Identified as Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, he was brought to a hospital in Israel in critical condition, where he passed away shortly after.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lauded the rescue operation “one of the most heroic and extraordinary operations I have witnessed over the course of 47 years serving in Israel’s defense establishment.”

“IDF, Shin Bet, and Yamam, as well as the forces who supported [those in the field] have conducted an unprecedented operation – daring in nature, planned brilliantly, and executed in an extraordinary fashion. The various security agencies cooperated closely — the IDF, Shin Bet, and Yamam — acting as one single unit,” he said in a statement, thanking all those involved.

“I would especially like to express my appreciation to the IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, who is leading the the military. I would like to express my appreciation to the head of the Shin Bet and to the commander of Yamam for their leadership in these complex conditions,” he said, adding that the country has people they can count on and reasons to be proud.

He also commended the military chief for prioritizing the country's interests, despite facing criticism from certain politicians regarding the management of the war.

“This morning not only did we have a successful operation, but also an opportunity to fulfill the goals of this war,” he stated.

Israelis celebrate rescue of 4 hostages on Tel Aviv beach, streets of Athens

Israelis in Tel Aviv and Athens cheer and celebrate the rescue of four hostages in a special operation in the central Gaza Strip.

At the beach in Tel Aviv, a lifeguard makes an announcement over the loudspeaker, prompting applause and cheers from those present.

In Athens, dozens of Israelis were also seen in footage on the streets celebrating the news, and chanting, “Am Israel Chai.”

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