Almog Meir Jan, a rescued hostage reacts with his mother, Orit Meir, after the military said that Israeli forces have rescued four hostages alive from the central Gaza Strip, in Ramat Gan, Israel. Image Credit: REUTERS

JERUSALEM: The father of an Israeli hostage held in war-torn Gaza for eight months died just one day before his son was rescued in a special forces raid, relatives said Sunday.

Ever since Hamas’s October 7 attack, Yossi Jan had desperately waited for news on his son Almog Meir Jan, 22, who was among those abducted from the Nova music festival.

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“He was worried that he (Almog) was in the hands of murderers and about what was happening to him and what he was going through,” the father’s sister Dina told public broadcaster Kan.

As the father’s hopes rose and faded over the months, she said, “he couldn’t bear it ... his heart broke”.

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On Saturday, Israeli special forces rescued Almog Meir Jan from Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp along with three others — Noa Argamani, 26, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41.

Palestinians decried the high death toll from the operation, which was backed by fighter jets and tanks, while Israelis rejoiced at the rescue even as they mourned a police officer killed in the raid.

But the elder Jan never lived to see the moment, having died alone at home of cardiac arrest on Friday.

Dina Jan said she had rushed to her brother’s house to tell him about Almog’s release and pounded on the door. When there was no answer, she opened it to find her brother lying inside.

“My brother died of grief and didn’t see his son return,” she said.

The father’s funeral will be held later on Sunday, attended by Almog, said the Hostages and Missing Families Forum campaign group.

“Almog expresses his gratitude for the support and love, but requests privacy to mourn his personal loss,” the forum said.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants took 251 people as hostages, mostly civilians, 116 of whom are still held captive in Gaza, including 41 the military says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory military offensive against Hamas since then has killed at least 37,084 people, also mostly civilians, according to the territory’s health ministry.

The ministry has labelled the hostage rescue operation a “massacre” in which it said 274 people were killed and 698 were wounded, with many women and children among the casualties.

The figures could not be independently verified.