Israeli forces rescue two hostages during operation in Rafah

 Israeli forces successfully rescued two Israeli hostages being held in Gaza's Rafah city, officials announced early Monday.

In a joint operation overnight, the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Securities Authority and Israeli police rescued 60-year-old Fernando Marmon and 70-year-old Lewis Haar and airlifted them by helicopter to Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital inside Israel. Footage later released by the IDF showed Merman and Har embracing their families.

"The hostages ... were held in harsh conditions. They were deliberately placed inside a civilian building in the middle of a civilian neighborhood to prevent us from rescuing them," IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a video. But we did it." Message this morning. "Fernando Marmon and Luis Har are now at home in Israel. They have undergone medical examinations and have been reunited with their families.

Hagari said, "This rescue operation underlines the importance of our ground operation in Gaza, including Rafah, when conditions permit. One hundred thirty-four men, women, children and elderly people are still being held hostage in Gaza." “We have a moral obligation to bring all of our hostages home, and it is an obligation that we will continue to do everything – everything in our power – to accomplish.”

Merman and Har were kidnapped by Hamas militants from the Nir Yitzhak kibbutz on October 7, the day Hamas launched its attack against Israel.

According to the IDF, forces consisting of IDF Navy SEALs, a Shin Bet special operations unit, and an Israeli police anti-terrorism unit arrived at a building in Rafah to conduct a rescue operation. The operation took place at around 1 am local time.

"Fernando and Luis, welcome home," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "I salute our brave fighters for the courageous action that led to their release. Only sustained military pressure until complete victory will be able to secure the release of all our hostages. We will miss no opportunity to bring them home."

An IDF spokesman told reporters at a briefing that forces managed to secretly approach the building and enter the second floor, before they blew up the apartment door with explosives and killed three militants holding two hostages. killed.

An IDF official told Axios that the IDF and Shin Bet had been working on the operation for several weeks, based on intelligence. The Israeli Air Force launched heavy strikes into Rafah to allow rescue.

UN chief breaks silence on sexual violence by Hamas terrorists, agrees to investigate October 7 attack

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said dozens of Palestinians were killed in the bombing, Al Jazeera reported.

According to Axios, Israeli officials informed the Biden administration after the operation was completed.

As of Monday, 134 of the more than 240 hostages kidnapped on October 7 remain in Gaza. More than 100 people were freed under a temporary ceasefire agreement in November. This includes Har's wife, who is also Marmon's sister, and Marmon's other sister and niece.

Qatar and Egypt are attempting to broker a new hostage agreement, but Israel and Hamas have yet to reach an agreement.

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