March 2, 2024

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked China to help secure the release of hostage Noa Argamani, whose mother, Liora, is from China and is dying of cancer.

Netanyahu described how he had recently requested the intervention of Chinese President Xi Jinping through the country’s Ambassador Cai Run during a speech he delivered to the Knesset on Monday describing his efforts to free the hostages.

Netanyahu told Cai to send a message directly to Xi.

Ofir Tamir holds up a picture of his friend Noa Argamani, who was taken hostage on October 7 by Hamas, as he speaks during a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, October 30, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/Tom Little)

“There is a daughter of a Chinese mother and I am personally asking for your interference in the matter of Noa Argamani.”

 Netanyahu explained to Cai that there is also the issue here of her mother who just wants to see her daughter one last time before she dies.

The ambassador “assured me,” Netanyahu said, that the message had been delivered.


Argamani’s story strikes cord

Argamani is one of some 250 hostages kidnapped during Hamas’ infiltration of southern Israel on October 7, an attack during which 1,200 people were killed.

Some 110 of those hostages have been released through a limited deal. It’s presumed that some 129 captives are still in Gaza, while the bodies of some 11 captives have also been retrieved.

Netanyahu has been under pressure to find a way to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

The story of Argamani, 26, who is a student at Ben Gurion University, has struck a particular emotional cord because she was among those filmed on October 7, as she was taken into Gaza on a motorcycle, begging her captors not to kill her.

She had been at the Nova music festival together with her boyfriend Avinatan Or. She was also featured in a second video published soon after she was taken captive, in which she was seen drinking water.

NBC reported this month that it was possible that an armed group, which is not Hamas, had seized her and was holding her.

In the Knesset Netanyahu spoke of his appeal to China, as he attempted to draw a picture of a premier who had left no stone unturned when it came to securing the release of the captives.

Relatives of the hostages sat in front of him in the plenum’s gallery as he spoke, holding up signs and shouting, “Now, now.”

Netanyahu said that he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking that he work to help free all the hostages. Russia has tight ties with Iran, a country that helps fund Hamas. Moscow has worked in the past to help Israel with hostage situations.

During that call, Netanyahu recalled, Putin said, he would try to act on the issue.

*The next day Russia’s deputy foreign minister called for the immediate and unconditional release of all the captives,* Netanyahu said.

He described conversations he also had with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he sought a way to free the hostages, some of whom are dual citizens with passports from those countries..

*I recount this for you to illustrate one thing – we, my friends and I, spare no effort, both from actions that are known and those that are not known, to bring all our captives home,* Netanyahu said.

His wife Sara, Netanyahu explained, sent a letter to Pope Francis on Sunday asking him to intervene on behalf of the hostages.

Netanyahu described how he had spoken with International Committee of the Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric when she was in Israel earlier this month. He recalled that he had presented her with medication needed by the hostages and asked that she deliver it or at the very least hand it to Hamas at the Rafah Crossing.

She did not agree to take the box, Netanyahu said, adding that he had a very difficult conversation with her.

*We will continue to invest all efforts to bring them home.” Netanyahu stressed.