Videos of Noa Argamani and Other Israeli Hostages Reuniting With Their Families Are Moving and Devastating – Kveller
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Videos of Noa Argamani and Other Israeli Hostages Reuniting With Their Families Are Moving and Devastating

Argamani, 26, reunited with her parents, while Almog Meir Jan came home to the news that his father had just died.


via Israeli Army Spokesman

This weekend, four Israeli hostages — Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27 and Shlomi Ziv, 41 — were released from captivity in Gaza in an Israeli military operation that the Gaza Health Ministry says killed 274 people.

The videos that have since come out of the hostages reuniting with their family and friends are incredibly moving and emotional.

Argamani returned to Israel on her dad’s birthday. Noa’s face had been etched in many of our memories from the video of her capture at the Nova Festival, in which she screams “don’t kill me” as she is viciously taken away from the festival site, reaching her hand out for her boyfriend. Avinatan Or, who was also taken into Gaza and whose whereabouts are still unknown. Noa’s parents, Yaakov and Liora, both made multiple TV appearances calling for her release over the past eight months, especially in light of her mom’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis.

Noa became emblematic of all the hostages in a way, with many famous Israeli Noas, like actress Noa Koler and singer and former Eurovision contestant Noa Kirel, shooting a video in her honor to call for her and the rest of the hostages’ release. Kirel even changed her profile picture to a picture of Argamani and shared that she was thrilled to finally be able to change it to an image of herself in honor of Noa’s return.

In a video of Noa reuniting with her father, he embraces her as she cries. Later, at the hospital, staff sing a birthday song to him as he holds a cake and then goes to his daughter for one more hug.

Argamani was reportedly able to meet with her mother, too, spending time with hospital staff to learn about her condition, which is rapidly deteriorating. Liora was diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago, but her condition has gotten worse since Noa’s capture. She wrote a letter to President Biden back in December asking him to aid in her daughter’s return. Yaakov shared that she struggled to keep eye contact with Noa during their meeting, and medical staff said they couldn’t be certain that she knew her daughter was with her — but they have a feeling that she did.

Noa was welcomed all across the country; signs at Ben Gurion University, where Argamani is a student, read, “Welcome back, our Noa, we are happy you’re home and looking forward to seeing you on campus.” When the news first broke, a lifeguard on a beach in Tel Aviv announced the names of the hostages released over a loud speaker, sharing Argamani’s name last to an eruption of cheering.

Almog Meir Jan’s mother, who also celebrated her birthday on the day of her son’s return, said that she hadn’t smiled or laughed in a long time. The first thing her son told her was how much he loves her and missed her. “My gift is back, but 120 families are still waiting,” she shared with local news. Tragically, one person who was waiting for Jan’s return was not there — his father, Yossi, died less than 24 hours before his release, apparently of a heart attack. His family says he died of grief, having lost 20 kilos after Almog’s capture. Meir Jan’s friends all came to celebrate his return, having him cut all their hostage bracelets that had called for his return.

Kozlov, Ziv and Meir Jan report that they were held in captivity together, which helped them remain strong. Sometimes they even cooked for each other or pushed each other to exercise. Their captors kept them apprised of current events, and they saw images from the hostage families’ rallies that helped keep their spirits up.

The first video call between Shlomi Ziv and his wife of 14 years, Miran, was captured on video. She sat in a parked car while she video called her husband. “You are a hero,” she tells him, and he responds with a choked up, “I’m crazy about you, honey.”

He then sees the man next to her in the car — her cousin, Yanai. “Yanai, you are alive!” he exclaims. Shlomi had been with Yanai, who was a staple in Shlomi and Miran’s home and saw them as parental figures, at the Nova Party, along with his brother, Aviv, who served as head of security at the festival. The next question a tearful Shlomi asks his wife is, “Where is Aviv?” Yanai starts crying, and neither of them respond immediately; Aviv was killed at the festival. “We’ll talk about Aviv,” Miran eventually tells him, and asks him if he wants her to bring him something when they reunite. “Just you,” he responds. “You are so handsome,” she tells him.

In a later interview, Yanai talked about their emotional reunion. “The hug was more powerful than any words,” he shared. They did have to tell him that Aviv didn’t survive the October 7 attack, holding back the attackers until he was shot by an RPG. “He fought to the last bullet,” his brother said.

Andrei Kozlov’s parents flew in from Russia to see their son — he made aliyah a year before his kidnapping, and his parents have toured the world trying to get him freed. In a video, you can see his mother, Yivgenia, stretching out her arms out for a joyful hug, while Andrei falls to his knees. His mother then crouches down to hug him and stroke his back as he cries, with his father soon joining the embrace. The family thanked the IDF and mentioned Arnon Zmora, a commander who died in the mission to free the hostages, in their heartfelt thanks.

These reunions are bittersweet for many reasons — for what has been lost in the time that the hostages were first taken, for the 120 hostages who still aren’t home, and for the Palestinian civilians who were killed during the operation, which took place in a densely populated area where the four were held in civilian apartments. We pray for the safe return of all the hostages and for the end of the bloodshed and war.

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