Upon learning that their son, Andrey, was rescued from Hamas captivity in the heroic Operation Arnon last Saturday, Evgeniya and Michael Kozlov, who were in Russia at the time, rushed to board an airplane to reunite with their son. In a conversation with Arutz Sheva-Israel National News, the parents recounted that exciting and emotional day.

"When I was first notified, I was in Russia. That day I was already supposed to go back, and I was packing my things when I saw I got a phone call," Evgeniya relates.

She remembers the first moments, which were marked by disbelief: "They said Andrey was on the way to Israel and I didn’t understand. So they said it again and again and again, and it took three times until I understood. Of course, I was full of emotions and feelings, and the only thing that occupied me was how I could go back to Israel now at that moment. Where is the plane that can take me to Israel in a second? And of course, the wait was very very difficult."

Michael also recounts the moment he learned his son was rescued: "I found out from Evgeniya, she called to tell me and at first I thought it was fake news. Only when she said that the information came from the IDF did I really believe. I packed up and got to her apartment and when I got there she was already on a video call with Andrey so I saw him on the screen and it was an extraordinary moment. I can’t describe how I felt, it was just the happiest moment of my life."

Evgeniya recalls her excitement on the way to see her son: "The whole way here I couldn’t control my emotions and feelings. I just wanted to jump and run and fly. I was so happy and I remember running in the hallway of the hospital so I could meet him. And the first moment when I saw him and he fell to the ground I wanted to pick him up and hold him and hug him. And the first hug was just amazing."

From the beginning Andrey's actions and words shed some light on the terrible psychological torture inflicted on him by his terrorist captures "He doesn’t understand why everyone recognizes him and why they’re all talking about him. He didn’t know what was going on in Israel. The terrorists always told him that Israel doesn’t need them and everyone forgot about them. That the IDF actually wants to kill them and this way they would solve the problem of the war. Even when the soldiers came to save them, he thought they came to kill them. He didn’t believe that they were coming to save them and here in Israel too at the hospital and everyone was treating him nicely and when Prime Minister Netanyahu came, he really didn’t understand why he came, what did everyone want? He was shocked that people knew who he was, that they recognized him, everyone was hugging him, and everyone loves him. He didn’t know that there were demonstrations and all that, he didn’t know that they were trying to save him," his father said.

His mother related how when she called him a superhero for staying strong despite all he's been through, her son disagreed: "Andrey says that the superheroes are actually the soldiers and those who came to save them. This entire operation was crazy, like a James Bond movie. It was brazen and powerful, and we believe that that is what the State of Israel is, that is the nature of the State of Israel, to come and save our people, no matter what people say or don’t say. That’s what’s most important, our people come to save them at any cost."

The parents say that they believe that Andrey is trying to shield them from knowing the full extent of the horrors he went through. "Just like on October 7th, he never said goodbye, he never sent us a goodbye message or any negative information about what was happening because he was protecting us. And the first thing he told us when he returned was ‘I knew that I would return, I knew that I would see you again.’ And maybe that’s why he didn’t say goodbye. Now too, when he tells us about his experiences in captivity and the really terrible things, he says it like a joke, sarcastically while laughing, and says that everything’s fine. But he tells really terrible things and it’s heartbreaking. I understand that it’s his way of protecting himself and us, to turn it into some sort of humor, even though he went through something very painful," Evgeniya says.

Michael adds: "When he returned he said that there are things that he’ll never talk about. I believe he won’t talk about them since he wants to protect us first of all, not just himself. So it also breaks our hearts to know what he went through. The fact that he came back strong and healthy is not because they treated him well in captivity, it’s because he’s strong and powerful, he had faith and he didn’t break."

Evgeniya continues to emphasize the importance of working to bring back all of the hostages: "The first thing that he said and continues to say is that we need to save everyone. He says, 'There are still so many more people and we need to save them right now. Since only I understand what they’re going through and we need to bring them home now.'"

The parents reflect on the future now that their son is home: "I understand that we’re expected to protect him and to lift him up, but what’s really happening is that he’s protecting us and he’s lifting us up. His presence gives us so much strength and energy and the fact that we’re together and see each other is really comforting," says Michael.

Evgeniya concludes: "The simplest thing, that I can see him every day, makes me the happiest mother in the world. I can just see him, I can smile at him, and it’s amazing, and I pray and ask that every hostage’s mother can feel the same thing, every parent and every child should also be the happiest in the world."