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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Noa Argamani, 26, did not see sunlight for 245 days before daring Israeli special forces rescue… as friend says she is ‘happy’ to be going home but adds ‘it will take time to understand everything’


Israeli hostage Noa Argamani revealed she had not seen daylight for 245 days before she was rescued in a daring raid by special forces deep inside Gaza.

The 26-year-old, who was reunited with her ecstatic family on Saturday, had become the face of the October 7 massacre after video emerged of her screaming ‘Don’t kill me’ as she was kidnapped from a music festival by Hamas terrorists on motorbikes.

But serious questions have been raised over the human cost of the rescue mission – which also freed another three captives – with the Hamas-run health ministry claiming it left 274 people dead and 698 wounded. 

While it is unclear how many of these were civilians, horrific images from the aftermath of a gun battle during the raid in the Nuseirat area show scores of dead and wounded women and children on the streets.

The terror group claims that the fatalities include three other hostages, one of whom holds US citizenship – which an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman dismissed as a ‘blatant lie’. The raid on Nuseirat was the biggest hostage rescue mission since the war began, and news of its success prompted wild celebrations across Israel.

Israeli hostage Noa Argamani being hugged by her father after being rescued by an Israeli special operation

Israeli hostage Noa Argamani being hugged by her father after being rescued by an Israeli special operation

Ms Argamani meeting Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. The 26-year-old, who was reunited with her ecstatic family on Saturday

Ms Argamani meeting Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. The 26-year-old, who was reunited with her ecstatic family on Saturday

The terrified hostage became the face of the October 7 massacre after video emerged of her screaming 'Don't kill me' as she was kidnapped from a music festival by Hamas terrorists on motorbikes

The terrified hostage became the face of the October 7 massacre after video emerged of her screaming ‘Don’t kill me’ as she was kidnapped from a music festival by Hamas terrorists on motorbikes

Noa was kidnapped from the Nova music festival on October 7 and taken into Gaza

Noa was kidnapped from the Nova music festival on October 7 and taken into Gaza 

As a picture was released of the squalid room where Noa was found, she has revealed she was held by a ‘well-to-do’ family but kept under armed guard, was rarely allowed to wash and never saw daylight as she was moved from house to house at night while dressed as an Arab in a bid to evade detection.

Noa was saved along with 21-year-old Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, who were also at the Nova Festival when Hamas militants struck in October. All are said to be in ‘good medical condition’ but as a precaution are being kept at Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, for monitoring.

Noa’s friend Amir Moadi, 29, said: ‘She’s good – mentally good – and healthy. But Noa lost a lot of friends on October 7. I think it will take time to understand everything. It feels like she’s in shock.

‘Because of all the people around her now, she’s smiling and very happy. She told us on the phone before we saw her, ‘I’m coming home.’ When you hear it from her, all our hearts melted.’

Mr Moadi hopes she will be discharged in the coming days. He said: ‘I told her it doesn’t matter when, what, where, we’re going to be with you. We are not going to leave her – she is going to be with us in every moment.’

She was able to celebrate her father Yakov's birthday after spending more than seven months in Hamas captivity

She was able to celebrate her father Yakov’s birthday after spending more than seven months in Hamas captivity

Noa Argamani (in pink top, jeans and helmet) is seen being helped into an IDF helicopter to escape Hamas after being rescued

Noa Argamani (in pink top, jeans and helmet) is seen being helped into an IDF helicopter to escape Hamas after being rescued

Images from the scene showed a group of around 11 running along the ground in Gaza and into the waiting helicopter to escape after the daring raid

Images from the scene showed a group of around 11 running along the ground in Gaza and into the waiting helicopter to escape after the daring raid 

Noa's mother Liora Argamani has stage four brain cancer and had repeatedly expressed her desire to see her daughter again

Noa’s mother Liora Argamani has stage four brain cancer and had repeatedly expressed her desire to see her daughter again

Noa was one of just 19 women that are still being held by the terror group

Noa was one of just 19 women that are still being held by the terror group 

Noa’s mother Liora, who is terminally ill with stage-four brain cancer, had previously said she feared she might never see her daughter again. 

After being reunited on Saturday, Professor Ronni Gamzu, the director of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv where she is being treated, said he ‘believed that Liora understood’ her daughter was safe, adding: ‘She simply couldn’t express her feelings and say what she was really waiting to say to Noa.’

Describing the reunion yesterday, Noa’s father, Yaakov, said: ‘Unfortunately her mother is in a very difficult condition. They met, but it was very difficult.’

Last night European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the reports ‘of another massacre of civilians are appalling,’ adding: ‘The bloodbath must end.’

In response, Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner hit out at Hamas for holding hostages in civilian areas and said the IDF had been forced to call in air support after its squad ‘came under fire from 360 degrees’.

Hamas has warned that conditions will now worsen for the remaining captives. ‘The operation will pose a great danger [for] the prisoners and will have a negative impact on their conditions,’ spokesman Abu Obaida said.

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