Israeli troops liberated two Israeli-Argentinean hostages in Rafah on Monday under the cover of airstrikes, which, according to local health authorities, killed 67 Palestinians and injured many others in the southern Gaza city, which serves as the final shelter for about a million displaced residents.
The military reported that Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70, were set free by a joint operation by the Israeli military, the domestic Shin Bet security service, and the Special Police Unit in Rafah.
According to the IDF, the two men were abducted by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7 along with over 250 other individuals who Israel says were taken prisoner during the terrorist attack that precipitated its war on Gaza.
Israeli military spokesman Lt Col. Richard Hecht said, “We’ve been working a long time on this operation, we were waiting for the right conditions.”
According to Hecht, there were intense gunfire exchanges between the raiding party and the surrounding buildings while the hostages were being held on the second floor of a structure that had been accessed using explosives.
The released captives were reportedly dual citizens of Argentina, and the Argentinean government expressed gratitude to Israel for saving their lives.
According to Israel’s military, the airstrikes were timed to coincide with the operation, enabling the extraction of its men.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, there have been 67 confirmed deaths, and while rescue efforts continue, that figure may increase. A picture taken at the scene revealed a sizable area covered with debris where buildings had been demolished.
Palestinians in Rafah reported that Israeli warcrafts, tanks, and ships struck two mosques and other residences in the course of more than an hour, sparking widespread terror among those who had been sleeping.
There were concerns that Israel would launch a long-awaited ground attack on the city, where over a million Palestinians who were uprooted by Israel’s conflict with Hamas are seeking refuge since they have nowhere else to go.
The liberated men were described as “a bit frail, a bit thin, a bit pale” but otherwise in decent shape by a relative of one of the hostages, who had seen them both in the hospital.
The director of Israel’s Sheba Hospital, Professor Arnon Afek, said that they are being treated there.
According to Hamas, Israel has been attempting to forcefully relocate the Palestinian people through a “genocidal war” and attacks like the one that happened in Rafah.
Israeli counts indicate that during their assault on October 7, Hamas militants killed 1,200 civilians in southern Israel and kidnapped at least 250 others. The health ministry in the enclave, operated by Hamas, however reports that over 28,000 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel’s military attack on the Gaza Strip in retaliation.
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