Israeli forces rescue four live hostages from Gaza, military says

By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli forces rescued four hostages alive from two locations in the central Gaza area of al-Nuseirat on Saturday, the military said, eight months after they were kidnapped by Hamas-led militants in a deadly incursion into Israel.

The four hostages, three males and one female who were abducted from the Nova music festival in southern Israel on Oct. 7 last year, were taken to hospital for medical checks, the military said, and were in good health.

They were identified as Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40.

After eight months of devastating war in Gaza triggered by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, 116 of the approximately 250 hostages abducted by militants are left in the Palestinian enclave, according to Israeli tallies - at least 40 of whom have been declared dead in absentia by authorities.

Israel's chief military spokesman said the rescue operation was held under fire in the heart of a residential neighbourhood, where he said Hamas had been concealing hostages among Gaza civilians under the armed guard of militants.

In a televised news conference, spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said one Israeli soldier had been badly injured. Israeli forces returned fire, including with airstrikes, he said.

The Gaza health ministry said that at least 55 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation. It did not say how many of the fatalities were combatants but said that women and children were among the dead.


A video of Argamani receiving a telephone call from Israeli President Isaac Herzog was distributed by his office.

"I am so happy to be here. Thank you for everything, thank you for this moment," a smiling Argamani said, sitting with her father in a hospital room.

In another video, speaking on the phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Argamani said, "I am very moved. I haven't heard Hebrew for so long."

Earlier video of Argamani reunited with her father showed her smiling and embracing him.

She was kidnapped along with her boyfriend Avinatan Or from the Supernova festival on the morning of Oct. 7. Her boyfriend is believed to remain in captivity.

Argamani became one of the faces of the hostage crisis when footage of her abduction by two men on a motorbike emerged online. In the footage, a distraught Argamani shouts: "Don't kill me!"

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Heinrich)