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‘You are heroes’ – Former hostage praises Israel’s rescue mission

Andrey Kozlov speaks out and sends message about the remaining hostages

Andrey Kozlov in a video message (Photo: Screenshot)

Andrey Kozlov was one of the four hostages rescued in the recent operation by Israeli special forces last Saturday.

Images of Noa Argamani embracing her father moved people across the world, as did scenes of Kozlov collapsing on the floor with emotion when he was finally reunited with his parents who were flown in from Russia.

Kozlov and his family have now started to speak out publicly about his ordeal in Gaza, and what happened to him in captivity. His father Mikhail explained in an interview with CNN that Andrey had been convinced by Hamas that Israel just wanted to get rid of the hostages. The captives were led to believe Israel wanted them dead because they were causing a big problem for the government: “He was afraid that the IDF came to kill him. It took him some time to realize that they came to rescue him.” 

In a video, Andrey explained how they were shown the scenes of the huge protests in Israel calling for a hostage deal and the end of the war.

“Almost every Saturday they showed us all the [protests] that happened in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem. And I didn’t count. I didn’t count how much people were there, but I see that a lot. I remember how Almog, the first time he saw his picture, he started to, 'Ohhh, it’s me! It’s me on the poster! It’s me!' And, for him it was… he started to breathe more freely.”

Kozlov, 27, made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel two years before, and was working as a security guard at the Nova festival on Oct. 7. His brother Dimitry, explained how Andrey had been mistreated by his captors in various ways.

“They were trying not to leave [physical] marks … But they would still punish him this way or the other. Very often for trivial things.” 

Kozlov expressed deep gratitude to the IDF for the rescue operation.

“You know, you spent a lot of time and a lot of power to bring us home. And that is one of the things that gave me hope. You are heroes. You are. You are heroes.”

However, he also highlighted his concern for those left in Gaza, and pleaded for a deal to be made with Hamas.

“More than 120 hostages are still there. And I can’t feel all the happiness from this situation because I was rescued and they are not. They are still there in Gaza. For all the hostages that are still in Gaza, it’s only one decision, only one. It is the deal between Israel and Hamas. I ask to bring them home as soon as possible. Israel, world, Hamas… I ask you to make a deal as soon as possible.”

Mikhail said that either way, whether through a deal or further rescue missions, everything must be done to bring the hostages back home.

“If a deal can help to release them, then be it… If it’s possible to carry such an operation again, then it should be an operation for the release of these hostages. We need to use any means to return these people back to their families.”

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

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