Mother of freed Israeli hostage dies of cancer

By David Brummer

Noa and Liora Argamani
Noa and Liora Argamani

JERUSALEM – Liora Argamani, the mother of hostage Noa Argamani, died in a Tel Aviv hospital Tuesday from inoperable brain cancer. She was 61.

The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (also known as Ichilov Hospital) officially announced her death. The hospital said in a statement that Liora “spent her final days alongside her daughter Noa, who returned from captivity, and her close family.”

“We relay the family’s request to respect its privacy at this difficult time,” it said.

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The official X account of the State of Israel, relayed that the whole country was heartbroken by the news.

Of the many appeals from Israeli parents trying to learn more information about the fate of their loved ones, Liora’s was one of the most poignant, precisely because of the severity of the illness she knew would take her life sooner rather than later.

She frequently took to the airwaves to remind Israelis and the wider world about the pain of her separation from her daughter and pleaded for Noa’s return so she could see her before she died. She even turned to U.S. President Joe Biden to intercede on her daughter’s behalf.

Noa Argamani is embraced by her father, Yaakov, after being rescued on June 8, 2024. (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
Noa Argamani is embraced by her father, Yaakov, after being rescued on June 8, 2024. (Israel Prime Minister’s Office)

Liora Argamani got her wish, following Operation Arnon (named for soldier Arnon Zamora who was killed during the rescue), one of the Israel Defense Force’s most vaunted raids since the miracle of Entebbe in the mid-1970s.

Having been famously snatched from the Nova music festival and ridden on the back of a motorcycle into Gaza, Noa was found being held as a domestic slave in the Nuseirat “refugee camp” in the central part of the coastal enclave.

Mother and daughter obviously had a close relationship. While Liora constantly lobbied and pressured – as long as her health would allow – for Noa’s release. At a rally on Saturday night in Tel Aviv to urge the government to come to a deal for the rest of the hostages, Noa Argamani spoke on a video that was screened there.

“As an only child to my parents, as a child to a mother who is terminally ill, the thing that occupied me the most in captivity was concern for my parents,” she said, adding that it is “a great privilege to be by my mother’s side, after eight months of uncertainty.”

Indeed, her first reported words to the soldiers who rescued her were, “Is my mother still alive?”

This is by no means the only bittersweet story that accompanies the raid that freed the four hostages.

Almog Meir Jan who was rescued from a different nearby location from Argamani was repatriated to Israel, only to find that his father, Yossi, who had also been ill, suffered a heart attack and died, mere hours before he would have been reunited with his son, after eight long months in captivity.

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