Israeli Special Forces Rescue Hostages in Rafah
Israeli Special Forces Operation in Rafah
Israel launched a special forces operation that successfully freed two Israeli hostages in Rafah amid air strikes early on Monday. The local health officials reported that the air strikes killed 37 people and wounded dozens in the southern Gaza city.
Successful Rescue Operation
A joint operation by the Israel Defence Force (IDF), Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security service, and the Special Police Unit in Rafah resulted in the liberation of Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70. The hostages were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on Oct. 7, the military said.
Complex Rescue Mission
“It was a very complex operation,” Israeli military spokesman Lt Col. Richard Hecht said. “We’ve been working a long time on this operation. We were waiting for the right conditions.”
Hostages’ Medical Condition
“I’m very happy to announce that this night two released hostages landed here at Sheba medical center, Israel’s largest hospital,” said Prof Arnon Afek, director of Sheba general hospital. “They were received in our ER and initial examinations were conducted by our ER staff, and they are in a stable condition and being tended to.”
Israeli Air Strikes and Panic in Rafah
The air strikes caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were asleep when the strikes started, said residents contacted by Reuters using a chat app. Some feared Israel had begun its ground offensive into Rafah. Israeli planes, tanks, and ships took part in the strikes, with two mosques and several houses hit, according to residents.
International Concern and Response
U.S. President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there, the White House said. Egypt also warned of “dire consequences” of a potential Israeli military assault on Rafah, which lies near its border.
Political Response and Conflict Escalation
Netanyahu’s office has said that it had ordered the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions it says are deployed there. Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducted at least 250 in their Oct. 7 incursion, according to Israeli tallies. Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Aid agencies say an assault on Rafah would be catastrophic. It is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.
Continued Tensions and Negotiations
Hamas-run Aqsa Television on Sunday quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would “blow up” the hostage-exchange negotiations.