“Israeli Military Rescues Hostages in Daring Gaza Strip Raid”
In a daring operation early Monday, the Israeli military successfully rescued two hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip, marking a significant development in its ongoing efforts to secure the release of over 100 captives believed to be held by the Hamas militant group.
The hostages, identified as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were abducted by Hamas militants in a cross-border attack on October 7, which triggered the protracted conflict between Israel and Hamas. The rescue operation involved a series of Israeli strikes in Rafah, a city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military described the mission as based on “precise intelligence.”
Tragically, the raid resulted in at least seven casualties, and witnesses reported at least 15 airstrikes, flares, and Apache helicopter fire during the operation. The hostages were airlifted to Sheba Hospital in central Israel, where they were reported to be in good medical condition. This successful rescue follows a previous operation in November that saved a female soldier.
Israel has designated Rafah as the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza after months of conflict. The White House has expressed concerns about potential civilian casualties in Rafah, with President Joe Biden warning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against conducting a military operation without a “credible and executable” plan to protect civilians.
The Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas militants led to the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and the kidnapping of 250 others. Israel’s air and ground offensive has caused over 28,000 Palestinian casualties, displaced more than 80% of the population, and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis.
— Military journalist (@A_2027A_) February 12, 2024
While over 100 hostages were freed during a weeklong cease-fire in November, approximately 100 hostages are believed to remain in Hamas captivity, with the group also holding the remains of around 30 others who either died on Oct. 7 or in captivity. Regrettably, three hostages were mistakenly killed by the Israeli army in December after escaping their captors.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has reiterated Israel’s commitment to achieving a “total victory,” including the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities. The situation in Rafah remains a point of contention, with Biden urging caution and expressing the need for humanitarian aid. Ongoing diplomatic efforts are reportedly nearing a “framework” for a cease-fire agreement that could include the release of remaining hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and a halt to the fighting. However, challenges and gaps in negotiations persist.
The international community, including Egypt, has voiced concerns about the potential consequences of an Israeli offensive in Rafah. Egypt has reportedly threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel, while other nations, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, warn of severe repercussions. The situation in Rafah remains fluid, with the specter of a humanitarian catastrophe looming, and displaced individuals facing uncertainty about their future as the conflict continues in central Gaza and Khan Younis. The death toll in Gaza has risen to 28,176 since the start of the war, with heavy fighting and tragic consequences for civilians.