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Bittersweet news – freed hostage Almog Jan's father died hours before his safe return

IDF personnel discovered the death upon coming to inform him of the rescue

Almog Jan reunites with his family after being rescued from Hamas captivity in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The daring and emotional rescue of the four hostages on Saturday morning was tinged with sadness for the family of Almog Jan. 

After spending 246 days in captivity and being released in one of the most dramatic hostage rescue missions in Israel’s history, Jan returned to Israel to learn that his father died mere hours before the operation which brought him home. 

IDF representatives and family members who arrived Saturday at the home of Yossi Meir (Jan's father) in Kfar Saba to update him on his son's release, found him dead. Emergency medical personnel who arrived at the home were forced to pronounce him dead at the scene.

Meir's sister Dina, who came to his house, said that he died of cardiac arrest after months of grief and anguish and a longing to see his son.

In an interview with Reshet Bet Radio, Dina said, "My brother died of grief and did not live to see his son return. The night before Almog's return to my brother, his heart fell silent, he didn't live to see him."

Dina also said the stress over repeated failures to achieve a hostage release deal contributed to her brother's death.

"Yossi, my brother, Almog's father, all eight months he would hold on to every bit of information. He loved and cared for Almog so much, wanted to know what was happening to him and what he was going through," she said. "He couldn't bear it, every deal that blew up in his face broke his heart."

Rabbi Lior Engelman wrote a message to a WhatsApp group in Kfar Saba, saying that he went to visit his friend Meir (also known as Yosef Jan) on Friday to give him a challah for Shabbat but did not get a response.

“Dear friends, alongside the news of joy over the release of the hostages, including Almog, I am sorry to announce the passing of his father, Yosef Jan, hours before Almog returned,” Rabbi Engelman wrote.

“On Friday, I went to Yosef to give him challah for Shabbat, and I didn't know what was behind the door. Yosef loved Almog with all his might and was tormented day after day. His heart could not withstand it, and tragically, twenty hours before the happiness that awaited him, it fell silent.” 

Engelman invited his congregants to support the family at the funeral, scheduled for Sunday evening. 

“Please come on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. to the cemetery in Neve Yamin to pay your respects.” 

Recalling the story of Joseph and his brothers from Genesis 44:30, Engelman wrote, “Yosef was a man whose life was not easy along the way, and the sorrow for Almog bit into him every day. May his soul be bound in the bundle of life and condolences to Almog and Joseph's brothers.” 

The rabbi also called on the families of the remaining hostages to remain strong. 

“To all the families of the abductees, we are with you. Please, please, do not break, try to take care of yourself too, your health, eat properly. Also for them. They will need you when they come back. And you never know, it might be right now.” 

Almog Jan's mother, Orit, said that her son is “fine” and excited to be rescued. She also said she was shocked and expressed her “supreme happiness” at hearing that Almog had been rescued. 

Family members said Jan kept a special diary during captivity to remember dates and know “how to count the number of days he was in captivity.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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