Celebration as Israeli Hostages Freed; US Officials Consider Ceasefire


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday emphasized his nation’s dedication to freeing “all the hostages” still held in Gaza following a meeting with four individuals who were liberated during a special military operation earlier that day.

The four hostages were taken by militants amid the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas-led assault. News of their rescue was met with joy and renewed hope throughout Israel.

A woman holding a poster depicting Israeli hostage Noa Argamani, right, attends a march calling for the hostages’ release on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, near Kibbutz Urim, southern Israel. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

In recent days, the fate of over 120 remaining hostages had been uncertain following nine months of an extended war that has taken thousands of civilian lives. The individuals freed on Saturday were rescued from two separate locations within Nuseirat, a refugee camp in central Gaza.

Almog Meir Jan, 21; Andrey Kozlov, 27; Shlomi Ziv, 40; and Noa Argamani, who turned 26 during her captivity, were all reported to be in “good medical condition” and were transported to Sheba Medical Center for further evaluation, according to the Israeli military.

The United States offered logistical support and provided intelligence on the hostages prior to Israel’s military operation, the New York Times reported, citing American and Israeli officials familiar with the mission.

Intelligence teams from the U.S. and the United Kingdom have been stationed in Israel since the onset of the war, assisting the Jewish state in gathering and analyzing information regarding the hostages, their potential locations, and methods to ensure their rescue.

President Joe Biden welcomed the “safe rescue.”

“We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a ceasefire is reached,” Biden stated following a meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan also commended the rescue operation and noted that the ceasefire proposal currently being negotiated by representatives from Hamas, Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and the U.S. could facilitate the return of the remaining hostages.

“The hostage release and ceasefire deal presently on the table would secure the release of all the remaining hostages, alongside security assurances for Israel and relief for innocent civilians in Gaza,” he said.

On May 31, Biden outlined a three-phase deal proposed by Israel, which he indicated could lead to the liberation of the remaining hostages in Gaza and possibly bring an end to the fighting.

Phase one would span six weeks and involve a “full and complete ceasefire,” the withdrawal of Israeli forces from heavily populated civilian areas in Gaza, and the release of several hostages, including women, the elderly, and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, the Associated Press reported. American prisoners would be released during this phase.

Part two would see the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, and necessitate Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

Part three involves rebuilding Gaza, significant portions of which have been severely damaged and are barely recognizable. However, not everyone supports the plan.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) remarked on Saturday that the hostage rescue “would have never happened” had a ceasefire been in effect and urged Israel to maintain its stance.

“This good news would have never happened with a ceasefire,” Barr posted Saturday on X. “Thank God Israel’s leaders have ignored the extreme far-left antisemitic voices on America’s college campuses, at the United Nations, and even in Congress calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The operation must continue until every hostage is rescued or recovered.”

Saturday’s bold daylight raid at the Nuseirat refugee camp resulted in the deaths of 210 Palestinians and injured more than 400, according to Gaza’s Government Media Office.

The casualty figures have not been independently verified. The Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health has frequently been accused of significantly exaggerating the death toll following an attack.

Barnini Chakraborty
Barnini Chakraborty
Senior Investigations Reporter. Barnini Chakraborty has previously worked at Fox News as a senior features and politics reporter. She's also worked at Fox Business as a field producer and at Dow Jones. She began her career at the Augusta Chronicle in Georgia.

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