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Cousin describes hostage’s condition after ‘miraculous’ rescue

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“He looks alright physically but mentally we don’t know yet. We have to wait a few more days.”

Amelie Botbol


“It’s a miracle,” Liat Ariel told JNS on Monday.

Ariel’s cousin Shlomi Ziv, along with Noa Argamani, Almog Meir and Andrey Kozlov, was rescued by Israeli forces in a daring daylight raid on Saturday after spending 246 days in Hamas captivity in Gaza.

Border Police Ch. Insp. Arnon Zamora was mortally wounded during the rescue mission.

“We are still digesting the news. We don’t really quite understand what happened to us. Suddenly, Shlomi is back,” Ariel said.

“We are so happy and a bit nervous. We want to make sure that he is fine. He looks alright physically but mentally we don’t know yet. We have to wait a few more days,” she added.

Ziv, 40, was a member of the security team at the Supernova music festival where Hamas terrorists and other Gazans murdered 364 people.

During the Oct. 7 invasion, he stayed to fend off Palestinian terrorists and evacuate people from the site. He was kidnapped along with more than three dozen others.

Ariel said her dream had been for Ziv to return to spend the Shavuot festival, which begins Tuesday evening and marks the Jewish people receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, with the family in in Nahariya.

“Every year, Shlomi’s mother, Rosita, prepares a Georgian feast for everyone. On Saturday, before we received the news that he had been rescued, we were having a conversation on whether or not we should get together for the first time in months,” Ariel recalled.

“Five minutes later, we saw Shlomi’s face on Telegram. That’s how we realized he was free,” she continued. “We’ve postponed our Shavuot celebrations to next week when Shlomi is back home. Meanwhile, he will stay in the hospital and celebrate the holiday there with his parents, his sister and his wife, Miren.

“Shlomi cannot wait to be home. Yesterday, at the hospital, he said that he felt cooped up. He wants to be outside, breathe fresh air and just be free. Freedom is something we often undervalue and take for granted. Now, we see it,” Ariel said.

As part of her work to promote awareness and help secure the release of hostages, Ariel, a doctoral student at the School of Education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, created Shlomi’s Glasses, a virtual reality tool that simulates the experience of being held in Gaza.

“Shlomi’s Glasses will go on to serve families of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza until they are all returned,” she said.

“We are still at war. Shlomi was rescued in a miraculous operation. But we cannot stop and we will not rest. We still have 120 hostages in Gaza and they have to get out of there. We need to close a deal,” she added.

Image: Former captive Shlomi Ziv in a first embrace with his sister, Revital Nasi (left), and cousin Liat Ariel. Credit: The Hostage and Missing Families Forum.

Featured Image: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with rescued hostage Shlomi Ziv at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, June 8, 2024. Photo by Maayan Toaf/GPO.

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