The Israel Defense Forces have announced the successful rescue of two Israeli hostages from Rafah city in southern Gaza during an overnight operation. Following the October 7, 2023 attack against Israel, Hamas had taken over 135 people hostage, and they remain in captivity.
According to Palestinian officials, the two men were rescued from a residential building in the southern border town of Rafah during a raid that resulted in the deaths of at least seven people. Witnesses reported at least 17 airstrikes, flares, and Apache helicopter fire during the operation.
The two freed hostages, identified as Fernando Simon Marman (aged 60) and Norberto Louis Har (aged 70), were extracted in a joint operation by the IDF, Israel Police, and Shin Bet. They had been kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7.
The statement reported that both men were kidnapped during a cross-border attack that initiated the Israel-Hamas war, which is currently in its fifth month. They represent only the second and third hostages to be successfully rescued.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht stated that the operation relied on "precise intelligence" and that the site, situated on the second floor of a building, had been under surveillance for some time. He further mentioned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Israel's military chief and other senior officials, participated in the raid as it unfolded.
Hamas militants caused an estimated 1,200 fatalities and abducted 250 individuals in the October 7 raid, which catalyzed the ongoing conflict. Local health officials report that an Israeli air and ground offensive has resulted in the deaths of over 28,000 Palestinians.
More than a million displaced Palestinians have sought shelter in Rafah, located on the border with Egypt. Despite ceasefire negotiations yielding no results, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that Israeli forces would continue fighting until achieving "total victory."
Netanyahu asserted, "We're going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion, but we're going to do it. We're going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave."
He added, "Those who argue against entering Rafah under any circumstances are essentially advocating for 'losing the war' and leaving Hamas in place."
Image source: WION News