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Who are the four hostages rescued by Israeli forces from captivity in Gaza?

The four captives rescued by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Saturday had been abducted from a desert rave near the border during Hamas’ wide-ranging assault into Israel on October 7th. One of the captives, Noa Argamani, 25, emerged as the face of the agonizing hostage crisis. Videos captured the painful trajectory of their plight: in one, filmed by the attackers, she was being forced onto a motorbike, screaming “Don’t kill me” with one arm outstretched. Another video released by Hamas in mid-January showed her gaunt and speaking under duress about other hostages being killed in airstrikes. In a third video, her mother, a Chinese immigrant to Israel with stage four brain cancer, pleaded with the captors to release her only child so she could see her one more time.

After eight months of captivity, Israeli forces rescued Ms. Argamani and three men who had all been kidnapped from the Tribe of Nova music festival, where Hamas and other militants killed more than 350 people in the worst massacre in Israel’s history. The rescue operation came amid a major Israeli air and ground offensive in central Gaza, which has killed and wounded hundreds of Palestinians, including at least 94 on Saturday.

Less is publicly known about the other three hostages rescued on Saturday. Almog Meir Jan, 21, from a small town near Tel Aviv, had finished his army service three months earlier. Andrey Kozlov, 27, was working as a security guard at the festival; he had immigrated to Israel alone a year and a half earlier, and his mother came to the country after October 7th. Shlomi Ziv, 40, from a farming community in northern Israel, was working as an usher and had gone to the party with two friends who were both killed. He and his wife of 17 years had been trying to have children.

Almog Meir Jan (Via Almog Meir Jan/Twitter)

Ms. Argamani had been dating Avinatan Or, whose whereabouts are still unknown, for about two years after meeting at Ben-Gurion University in her hometown of Beersheba. They were planning to move in together in Tel Aviv. Mr. Or had majored in electrical engineering and had been hired by Nvidia. Ms. Argamani’s friend Yonatan Levi described her as a smart, free spirit who loved parties and traveling and was studying computer science.

Hamas and other militants killed around 1,200 people in the October 7 attack and captured approximately 250 others, including men, women, children, and older adults. More than 100 hostages, mostly women and children, were freed in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel during a week-long ceasefire last year. According to local health officials, more than 36,700 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, without distinguishing between fighters and civilians. Israeli authorities believe militants are still holding around 120 hostages, with 43 pronounced dead. Survivors include about 15 women, two children under the age of five, and two men in their 80s.

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