Relief for the families of four hostages freed in Gaza


Four Israeli hostages held since the October 7 Hamas attack have been returned to their families.
Four Israeli hostages held since the October 7 Hamas attack have been returned to their families.

The families of four Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for eight months are celebrating their rescue, while the relatives of those still in captivity continue their desperate wait for news.

Hostages Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, all in their twenties and Shlomi Ziv aged 40 were free in an Israeli raid that caused heavy bloodshed in Gaza, with Palestinian officials saying 210 people were killed.

Some 250 hostages were kidnapped during the deadly October 7 raid by Hamas-led militants on Israeli towns and villages, which precipitated the devastating war in the Palestinian enclave.

The Hamas attack killed around 1200 people, according to Israeli authorities, and Israel’s subsequent bombardment and invasion of Gaza has killed at least 36,801 Palestinians, according to an updated tally by the territory’s health ministry.

Argamani, 26, was met with cheers when she arrived at a Tel Aviv hospital where her mother is terminally ill.

The young woman was seen in harrowing footage from October 7 of her being taken into Gaza on the back of a motorcycle, pleading for her life and reaching desperately towards her boyfriend being marched alongside her on foot.

Argamani’s boyfriend Avinatan Or is still in captivity.

“I’m so happy to be here,” she said in a phone call with Israel’s president upon her return, smiling and surrounded by friends and family.

Hospital CEO Ronni Gamzu said the mother’s condition was “complicated and tough”. He said Argamani was able to communicate with her mother, who they believe understood that her daughter had come home.

“For the last eight months we are trying to keep her in a status that she can communicate,” Gamzu said.

Israel’s military has been posting images of the rescue operation and the return of the freed hostages to their family and friends.

Meanwhile in central Tel Aviv, at what has become known as hostage square, tens of thousands of Israelis rallied to commemorate the rescue of the four hostages and to demand the release of more than 115 who remain in Gaza.

Anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv
Protesters again decry Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the hostage crisis. (AP PHOTO)

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators also gathered in Haifa and Jerusalem to demand a hostage deal and new elections.

Protests also took place in Caesarea, Beersheba and many other places in the country.

For months, there have been repeated mass protests in Israel against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and in favour of the release of the hostages still being held in the Gaza Strip.