Israel-Palestine war: Father of girl taken to Gaza says he hopes people can come together

When Yakov Argamani heard rockets and sirens on Saturday morning, he immediately went to his daughter Noa’s bedroom in their house in southern Israel’s Beersheba. She wasn’t there.

“I phoned her right away and there was no answer. Two and a half hours later, her boyfriend sent me a WhatsApp message that everything was OK and said they’ll be in touch later on,” Argamani told Middle East Eye. 

There was something in the way Noa’s boyfriend Aminatan responded that made him worry.

“I tried a third time to get in touch and at that point they didn’t answer. I told my wife I was going to the hospital.”

That morning, hundreds of Palestinian fighters had stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, and thousands of rockets rained down overhead.

Stay informed with MEE’s newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis,
starting with Turkey Unpacked

The Hamas-led surprise attack, which killed at least 900 Israelis, turned the kibbutzim and other communities near Israel’s boundary with the besieged Gaza Strip into battlegrounds.

Beersheba, the largest city in southern Israel that lies in the Negev desert, was not reached by Palestinian fighters. But its hospitals were filling up with wounded people nonetheless.

At the local hospital, Argamani was told no one with Noa and Aminatan’s names had come in. They weren’t on the list in the hospital in Ashkelon, north of the Gaza Strip, either.

“Then I got a phone call from her friend, who said they saw her on a motorcycle being abducted in the direction of Gaza. It was shattering, but I didn’t believe it, I thought it was a mistake,” Argamani said.

“And then a young guy came up to me and said I have the video if you want to see it, so I saw my Noa being taken on a motorcycle toward Gaza and then I saw Aminatan surrounded by four or five Hamas guys.”

Those images of Noa, terrified, being taken to Gaza on a motorbike by Palestinian fighters, have made headlines around the world. “Don’t kill me! No, no, no,” she is heard saying in the footage.

Avinatan Or, second left, and his partner, Noa Argamani, not pictured, are seized by Palestinian fighters on 7 October (AP)

Aminatan Or, second left, and his partner, Noa Argamani, not pictured, are seized by Palestinian fighters on 7 October (AP)

Noa was one of an estimated 4,000 young Israelis who had gathered at a rave outside the kibbutz of Reim, close to Gaza. 

She reportedly didn’t tell her parents she was going to the party because she didn’t want them to worry.

Emergency workers said they found around 260 bodies of people at the scene of the rave. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said they took some 130 Israelis captive, and are holding them across the Gaza Strip.

“The video was a terrible blow. A little later we saw another clip and she was a little calmer in that one, drinking a glass of water,” Argamani said.

“I believe that she is protected. There are people among them who have a heart, people who are merciful. I very much hope that soon I’ll see my Noa.”

Since the attack, the Israeli military has pounded the Gaza Strip with air strikes, killing 770 Palestinians and wounding another 4,000. 

All indications point towards a ground offensive, while Israel’s defence minister has ordered a complete siege of the coastal enclave – no electricity, no food, no fuel – describing Palestinians as “human animals”.

Argamani hopes for de-escalation, noting that it’s still early.

Yakov Argamani speaks to Middle East Eye from his home in Beersheba (MEE)

Yakov Argamani speaks to Middle East Eye from his home in Beersheba (MEE)

“I hope we can come together, so that together we can think about what is best for us and also for them. They are suffering, too; they are being battered, too,” he said.

“We have to stop this killing between us and them, so that there can be real peace between these two countries once and for all.”

Of course, his main focus right now is Noa.

“Noa is a girl of very strong opinions, very stubborn. Everything she wanted, she achieved. She is a sweet girl who understood how to give, she knew how to embrace us and to care for us,” he said.

“Her mother isn’t feeling well, she is very ill. Noa is a treasure for any set of parents. How much I long to hug her.”

By info

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *