Israel says it safely rescued four hostages that were captured by Hamas during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. 

The IDF said the hostages, three men and one woman, were rescued in the largest such hostage recovery operation since the war with Hamas began in Gaza.

Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Andrey Kozlov, 27, were rescued in two separate locations in a complex special daytime operation in the heart of Nuseirat in central Gaza. They had been held in captivity by the terrorist group for 246 days.

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Argamani has been one of the most widely recognized hostages since she was abducted from a music festival in southern Israel. The video of her abduction was among the first to surface, images of her horrified face widely shared — Argamani detained between two men on a motorcycle, one arm outstretched and the other held down as she screams “Don’t kill me!”

Her mother, Liora, has stage four brain cancer and in April released a video pleading to see her daughter before she dies.

Officers of the National Police special anti-terror unit of Yamam along with Shin Bet agents simultaneously raided two Hamas buildings to pluck the hostages to safety. Argamani was rescued at one site, while Meir Jan, Kozlov, and Ziv were at the second location.

During the operation, Chief Inspector Arnon Zmora, an officer in the special anti-terror unit of Yamam, was critically injured and later died from his injuries. 

There are still 120 Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. Forty-three of them have been declared dead and their bodies are still held by Hamas.

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“Noa, Almog, Andrey and Shlomi – we are overjoyed to have you home,” Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant said in a statement. 

“Our troops conducted a heroic operation to rescue four hostages held by Hamas, and brought them home to Israel.”

“I followed the complex operation from the command and control center – IDF, ISA and Special Forces operated with extraordinary courage under heavy fire, and succeeded in completing their mission. Israel’s defense establishment will continue fighting until 120 hostages return home.”

Gallant later described the mission as the “most heroic and extraordinary operations” he had witnessed over the course of his 47 years serving in Israel’s defense establishment.

The Hostages Families Forum Headquarters welcomed the news and praised the Israeli government. 

“The heroic operation by the IDF that freed and brought home Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, and Almog Meir Jan is a miraculous triumph,” a statement by the group reads. 

“Now, with the joy that is washing over Israel, the Israeli government must remember its commitment to bring back all 120 hostages still held by Hamas – the living for rehabilitation, the murdered for burial.”

“We continue to call upon the international community to apply the necessary pressure on Hamas to accept the proposed deal and release the other 120 hostages held in captivity; every day there is a day too far.”

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari of the Israeli Defense Forces said it was a “high-risk, complex mission” to rescue the hostages, which took place at around 11 a.m. local time.

“While under fire in the buildings and under fire on the way out from Gaza our forces rescued our hostages,” Hagari said. “Israeli forces have been preparing for this rescue mission for weeks… they risked their lives to save the lives of our hostages. This is what we do in Israel.”

He said Israel will not stop until all the hostages are rescued. Hagari said the four have been taken to hospital for medical examination and will soon be reunited with their families. 

“They are back home in Israel, they are alive, they are well.”

All four hostages were kidnapped from the NOVA festival.

Noa Argamani is from Be’er Sheva and was kidnapped along with her boyfriend Avinatan Or, who remains in Hamas captivity. She is a yoga and art enthusiast who enjoys hiking and was studying information systems management at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at the time of her kidnapping. 

Almog Meir Jan is from Or Yehuda and was expected to start a job at a large high-tech company the day after the terrorist attack. 

Shlomi Ziv, of Moshav Elkosh, was working as a security guard on Oct. 7. Ziv and his wife Miren have been living in the Moshav for about 17 years.

Andrey Kozlov, is from Rishon LeZion and was also working as a security guard on the day. Kozlov is a recent immigrant to Israel, having made aliyah by himself, without his family, about a year and a half ago. Aliyah is “the act of going up” towards the Jewish holy city of Jerusalem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.