Israel rescues four Nova music festival hostages from central Gaza


Four Israeli hostages, taken by Hamas from the Nova music festival, have been rescued alive from the central Gaza strip, the Israeli military has said.

The release was secured after the Israeli military carried out a “complex” daytime operation in the heart of Nuseirat, raiding two locations.

The raids left 210 Palestinians, including children, dead, Gazan authorities said, according to the Associated Press.

Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, were all recovered on Saturday and were taken by a helicopter for medical tests before they were reunited with their families.

They were all in good medical condition after being taken to the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, the Israeli military said.

An Israeli military spokesperson said the operation took place in the heart of a residential neighbourhood in Nuseirat where Hamas had kept the hostages in two separate apartment blocks.

Gazan paramedics and residents said the assault killed scores of people and left mangled bodies of men, women and children strewn around a marketplace and a mosque.

A nurse in Al-Aqsa hospital told The Independent: “Regarding what occurred here, according to the occupation, they freed four hostages and continued to aggressively and violently bomb Gaza to the point that the number of martyrs scattered in the streets reached 150 without anyone able to reach them until they finished their military operation.

“We have received approximately 500-600 injured until now. And after they completed their ground military operation, they then completely bombed the area where the operation occurred, and we are still receiving injuries.”

Noa Argamani stands with her father Yakov (right) and a family friend, Nir Givon, in Ramat Gan, Israel
Noa Argamani stands with her father Yakov (right) and a family friend, Nir Givon, in Ramat Gan, Israel (Reuters)
Argamani’s abduction on the back of a motorcycle became one of the most recognisable images from the October 7 terror attacks
Argamani’s abduction on the back of a motorcycle became one of the most recognisable images from the October 7 terror attacks (Telegram)

Israel says more than 130 hostages of the 200-plus abducted by Hamas during the October 7 attacks remain in captivity, with about a quarter of those believed dead, while divisions are deepening in the country over how best to bring them home.

Those injured were taken to Al-Awda Hospital in Nuseirat and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah of Gaza.

However, an Israeli military spokesperson put the number of casualties “under 100” and said it does not have information on how many were civilians.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the forces entered civilian areas to reach the hostages where Hamas members were also there.

Hostages were locked in two separate apartments in multi-story buildings and Ms Argamani, who is one of the most recognised hostages after her video went viral, was held in a different building, he said.

The IDF had received intelligence on their location, he said, adding that hostages were being moved around.

Saturday’s rescue comes as international pressure mounts on Israel to limit civilian bloodshed in its war in Gaza, which reached its eighth month on Friday.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will return to the Middle East next week to seek a breakthrough in the apparently stalled ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Israel’s offensive has killed at least 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its figures.

Saturday’s operation is the largest recovery of living hostages since the war erupted, bringing the total of rescued captives to seven.

Two men were rescued in February when troops stormed a heavily guarded apartment in a densely packed town, and a woman was rescued in the immediate aftermath of October’s attack.

Andrey Kozlov is one of four hostages to have been freed
Andrey Kozlov is one of four hostages to have been freed (Reuters)

Israeli troops have so far recovered at least 16 bodies of hostages from Gaza, according to the government.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing pressure to end the fighting in Gaza, with many Israelis urging him to embrace a deal announced last month by US president Joe Biden, but far-right allies are threatening to collapse his government if he does.

It was an emotional day as the hostages met their loved ones in tearful reunions after 246 days.

Almog Meir Jan reacts after being rescued
Almog Meir Jan reacts after being rescued (Reuters)
Meir Jan is reunited with a relative
Meir Jan is reunited with a relative (Reuters)

Ms Argamani became one of the most prominent faces of the October attack after she was abducted from the Nova music festival.

The video of her abduction was among the first to surface, with images of her horrified face widely shared as she was held between two men on a motorcycle.

Her mother, Liora, has stage four brain cancer and in April released a video pleading to see her daughter before she dies.

Ms Argamani had a phone call with Mr Netanyahu following her release, in which she reportedly said she was “very excited” to be free and glad to be hearing Hebrew again.

Yaakov Argamani, father of Ms Argamani, said: “We can’t forget there are 120 hostages. We must do everything, but everything, as soon as possible to bring them home, so that their families can embrace them in happiness.”

Orit Meir, mother of Almog Meir Jan thanked the Israeli military in a press conference, saying: “Tomorrow is my birthday so I got my present.”

She urged the government to also secure the release of the other dozens of captives that remained in Gaza.

“We want a deal now. We want them to come back home as soon as possible,” she said.

As fighting continues in Gaza, the Gazan health ministry said the bodies of 94 Palestinians, including children, had been taken to the Al-Aqsa Hospital.

A wounded Palestinian child is treated at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza
A wounded Palestinian child is treated at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Gaza (AP)
People walk across the rubble of destroyed buildings in the Nuseirat camp in Gaza
People walk across the rubble of destroyed buildings in the Nuseirat camp in Gaza (AFP via Getty Images)
A man rushes a wounded child towards medics at Al-Aqsa Hospital
A man rushes a wounded child towards medics at Al-Aqsa Hospital (AFP via Getty Images)

AP said that its reporters had seen bodies being brought in from the Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah areas.

A baby was among the dead. Bodies were placed on the ground outside, their feet bare, as more wounded were rushed in. AP quoted a family member at the hospital saying: “My two cousins were killed, and two other cousins were seriously injured. They did not commit any sin. They were sitting at home.”

Neighbouring Egypt and Jordan condemned the raids. Egypt denounced Israel‘s attacks on the Nuseirat refugee camp in “strongest terms”, with its foreign ministry calling it a “flagrant violation of all rules of international law.”

“The bloodbath must end immediately,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on the social platform X, noting reports of civilian deaths.

With reporting from agencies



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