JERUSALEM, Israel – The Israeli military successfully rescued two hostages from Gaza after conducting a special operation in the city of Rafah overnight. The hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, had been taken captive 128 days earlier during an attack by Hamas on Israel.
The Israeli Defense Forces reported that the hostages were in good medical condition and were transferred to Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer following the joint operation with the Israeli Security Agency and Israel Police. The operation, described as a “covert operation with extraction under fire,” involved aerial strikes and encountered resistance from Hamas forces.
The release of the hostages came amidst ongoing Israeli attacks on Rafah, which raised concerns about civilian casualties. The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported more than 100 people killed in overnight airstrikes, while Hamas condemned the strikes as “forced displacement attempts” and accused the US President Joe Biden and his administration of bearing “full responsibility” for the civilian deaths.
Amidst mounting international concern, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed off criticism of plans for a ground assault on Rafah, stating that calls not to enter Rafah are like telling Israel to lose the war. He pledged to provide safe passage for civilians but offered few details.
The city of Rafah has become a last refuge for Palestinians fleeing to avoid Israel’s air and ground campaigns across the crowded enclave of Gaza. However, with the sole crossing into Egypt closed for months along with the rest of Gaza’s borders, the inhabitants of Rafah have no remaining escape route.
The release of the hostages, combined with escalating tensions and the threat of a ground assault, has put the international community on high alert as they continue to monitor the situation in Gaza.