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The Israeli military said it had rescued two of the hostages seized by Hamas after a “complex operation” early on Monday morning involving special forces in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
The Israeli raid comes amid growing fears internationally of a wider military incursion into a city teeming with more than 1mn Gazans displaced from their homes, which Israeli officials claim is the last major population centre controlled by Hamas.
The two rescued Israeli hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 61, and Louis Har, 70, who were taken by the Palestinian militant group during its October 7 attack from the Nir Yitzhak kibbutz, were in good medical condition in an Israeli hospital, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Richard Hecht said.
The rescue operation had involved several of Israel’s elite military, intelligence and police counterterror units, which raided the second floor of a building in the centre of Rafah in which the hostages were held, Hecht said. Israel also launched air strikes on the surrounding buildings, including on a local Hamas battalion and other militant command and control sites.
Health officials in Gaza said more than 60 Palestinians were killed overnight during Israeli air strikes in Rafah. The IDF estimated that at least three of the militants who were holding the hostages were killed during the raid.
“This was a complex operation . . . We were waiting for the right conditions,” Hecht said.
At least 1,200 Israelis were killed and about 250 more taken hostage during the October 7 attack that sparked the current war, according to Israeli figures. More than 100 of the hostages were released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire in November.
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