‘We Are Waiting’: Family of an Israeli Hostage Marks Her Birthday

At the home of Yakov and Liora Argamani, Oct. 12 has long been a day for celebrating their daughter’s birthday. This year, though, it is a day of sorrow for the Argamanis, after their daughter, Noa, now 26, was seen on video being kidnapped Saturday from a music festival by Hamas assailants.

Her parents held Noa’s birthday dinner in their home in Be’er Sheva, in southern Israel, with cake and two empty chairs at the dining table. One was for their daughter, and one was for her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, who was kidnapped with her.

“We are waiting at home to celebrate your birthday,” Ms. Argamani said in a recent interview, hoping her daughter could somehow receive the message. Only a few nights earlier, she had sat at the same table with her daughter and Mr. Or, she said, just before they went to the festival near Re’im in Israel, three miles from the border with Gaza.

Israeli authorities estimate that 260 people at the festival died in the Hamas assault. Hours after the attack began, friends showed Ms. Argamani a video that had surfaced online of her daughter being forcefully taken away on a motorcycle by Hamas attackers. Mr. Or can also be seen in the video, surrounded by men holding his wrist and pinning his arm behind his back.

For Ms. Argamani, who is 61 and battling brain cancer, the news was difficult to accept: “Having my daughter taken away, it adds to the pain.”

In the neighborhood where Noa Argamani grew up, the community was grieving. Some of her friends were among the 3,500 people at the Nova Festival. Many people who were at first thought to be missing in the hours after the attack have now been confirmed dead.

In the hours before the Argamanis’ planned birthday gathering, the community learned that one of Noa Argamani’s friends, Ori Tchernichovsky, had been killed in the attack.

One of the younger Ms. Argamani’s oldest friends, Shlomit Marciano, did not go to the festival. “It’s sad that the date of her birthday, and even the exact hour we were planning to do something for her, is turning into the hour of the funeral,” Ms. Marciano said.

Liora Argamani, who is from the Chinese city of Wuhan, appealed to China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, for help in freeing her daughter. China has come under pressure from the United States and Europe for not condemning the violent attacks by Hamas.

On Thursday, China’s foreign ministry confirmed that three Chinese citizens had been killed and several others injured during the violence. They also said two Chinese citizens were still missing.

“Please try to help us,” Ms. Argamani said, appealing to Mr. Xi, “and we will express our gratitude.”

Nadav Gavrielov contributed reporting. Li You contributed research.

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