Rescued Russian hostage hugs Israel’s Netanyahu (VIDEO)

The dual Russian-Israeli citizen was held in captivity since the deadly Hamas attack last year

Russian citizen Andrey Kozlov has thanked the Israel Defense Forces and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his rescue from Hamas captivity, where he spent seven months, following the surprise attack on October 7 that left some 1,200 people dead and over 250 taken hostage. 

Kozlov, 27, who also holds Israeli citizenship, moved to Israel in 2022 and was kidnapped during the Hamas raid on Nova music festival, where he worked as a security guard. On Saturday morning, IDF launched a “high-risk, complex mission” at Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, eventually rescuing four hostages from two separate buildings.

In video footage circulated online later in the day, the young man is seen embracing the Israeli PM and thanking him for securing his release.

“Wow. Thank you, thank you!” he told Netanyahu in Russian. “What is happening,” he added in disbelief.

Kozlov has now been transferred to the ‘Sheba’ Tel-HaShomer Medical Center for a health examination. He is accompanied by his younger brother Andrey, while his father is en route to Israel from Russia, according to Telegram channel Shot. 

Kozlov told reporters that he was doing fine. The IDF confirmed that three other released hostages – Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), and Shlomi Ziv (40) – are also in “good medical condition.”

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Rescued Russian hostage hugs Israel’s Netanyahu (VIDEO)
Israeli forces killed hundreds in hostage rescue operation – Gaza authorities

The hostage rescue operation on Saturday was conducted “under heavy fire” from Hamas militants, as the IDF claimed that they were targeting only “terror infrastructure” in the area. One Isreali special forces officer was wounded during the operation and later died in hospital. 

The Gaza Government Media Office claimed that 210 Palestinians had been killed in the IDF assault on Nuseirat and the surrounding area. It is unclear how civilians were among the casualties, as the militant group – which governs Gaza – does not list its own casualties separately. Videos shared on social media showed dead bodies, including children, strewn along the streets of Nuseirat, many of them missing limbs.

Earlier this year, the Russian Foreign Ministry called for the “immediate release” of Kozlov and two other Russian hostages, Alexander Lobanov and Alexander Trufanov. Last month Trufanov appeared in a video released by еhe Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad, where he called upon the Israelis who are taking part in rallies demanding that Netanyahu facilitate the release of the hostages to show “patience”, further promising to reveal the “truth” about what happened to him and dozens of other captives who are being held in Gaza.

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Destroyed buildings are seen after the Israeli attack on Al-Maghazi refugee camp, Gaza on June 3, 2024.
Around 80 hostages still alive in Gaza – Israel

Following the release of Andrey Kozlov, Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov has issued a statement saying that “the issue of the release of hostages” remains one of the main priorities. Viktorov congratulated “the now former hostages” on safe rescue and reunification with their families and urged international organizations to contribute to the solutions of bringing the remaining captives home. 

“I would like to stress separately that no further escalation, but only an early cessation of hostilities adequately responds to the solution of all urgent humanitarian problems, including the release of the hostages remaining in Gaza,” the diplomat added.

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