Gaza war: What we know about Israel's Rafah hostage rescue raid
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Louis Har and Fernando Marman embrace their loved ones at a medical center located in the center of Israel.
New information has surfaced about a recent military mission led by Israel that successfully liberated two individuals who were held prisoner by Hamas. The hostages, who were Israeli-Argentine, had been kept captive in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.
The Israeli military conducted violent attacks while conducting the operation in the region, causing the Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by the Hamas, to report that many individuals lost their lives.
Here's the information that we have currently about the incident.
Who Were The Hostages Released?
The two individuals who were taken from Nir Yitzhak, a kibbutz, on October 7th have been identified as Louis Har (70) and Fernando Marman (60).
On that particular day, numerous Hamas militants breached southern Israel, resulting in the death of 1,200 individuals and the kidnapping of an additional 250, who were transported to the Gaza Strip. In retaliation, Israel initiated a military operation, resulting in over 28,100 fatal casualties in Gaza, as indicated by the region's health department.
The two hostages who were released have been transported to the Sheba Medical Center in the heart of Israel, where it has been reported that they are in good health.
Israel's Army Speaks Up
At around 2:00 in the morning on Monday, there were a lot of powerful Israeli attacks in Rafah. This caused a lot of fear and worry for the people there because Rafah is where most of the 1.7 million Palestinians who have had to leave their homes because of the war are staying.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has reported that they carried out attacks on "terror targets" located in the Shaboura section of Rafah around 00:50.
According to reports from Palestinians, Israeli troops forcefully entered a structure located in the Shaboura vicinity and subsequently, that same location was attacked by Israeli bombings.
After one hour and forty minutes, the IDF released a short statement informing that Louis Har and Fernando Marman had been saved in a collaborative mission with the Israel Police's Yamam special forces unit and the Shin Bet security service.
Earlier today, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, who is the spokesperson for the IDF, gave additional information about the daring rescue mission that was carried out in a dangerous situation. Israeli special forces had been getting ready for this operation over an extended period due to its complexity.
During the early hours of the morning, specifically at 01:49, a group of highly trained soldiers entered a structure in the center of Rafah," stated the speaker at a press conference. "Found on the second level were Louis and Fernando, being held captive by armed Hamas extremists who occupied the building. Additionally, other terrorists were located in nearby structures."
As soon as the apartment was broken into, the Yamam forces protected Louis and Fernando by putting their bodies in front of them. They began a brave fight with the terrorists, exchanging a lot of gunfire in multiple places at the same time.
Admiral Hagari stated that at 1:50, the Israeli Air Force and Southern Command began firing from the air to help their troops leave the location and attack any Hamas militants present.
During this point in time, Louis and Fernando were removed from the apartment despite facing gunfire. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) accompanied them and ensured their safety as they were evacuated to a secure location in the Rafah area.
According to Israeli media, a soldier sustained minor injuries during the mission.
In a written statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his admiration for the courageous soldiers who successfully secured the release of the hostages. He emphasized the importance of maintaining military efforts until every hostage is freed, as this is the only path to complete success.
In late November, there was a ceasefire that lasted for a week, during which Hamas released 105 Israeli and foreign hostages. Israel reported that 134 hostages are still being held, but they believe that approximately 24 of those may have already lost their lives.
"Opinions Of Palestinians"
According to the inhabitants of Rafah, there was gunfire coming from attack helicopters and naval ships during the early hours of Monday. It was reported that at least two mosques and over twelve houses were targeted.
Images and footage captured in the Shaboura district during the early hours depicted a colossal heap of debris, supposedly resulting from Israeli attacks that demolished numerous structures.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, reported that Israeli forces caused the deaths of at least 67 individuals in Rafah during the night.
Numerous sizable indentations and the leftover fragments of plastic polytunnels were visible in the neighboring farmland.
The inhabitants were fast asleep when suddenly they witnessed a great blaze and heard a barrage of gunshots but they had no idea about the chaos that was unfolding. Ziyad Seyam, a resident, shared with Reuters news agency that the houses were getting hit with catastrophic attacks.
One more individual who was present at the location, Abu Abdullah al-Qadi, mentioned that his relative was among the individuals who lost their lives due to the Israeli attacks.
He informed the AFP news agency that the individuals entered the building with great force and it seems they released prisoners before bombing it. In addition, all the neighboring houses were also subjected to bombing.
On Monday afternoon, the IDF shared video footage of the nighttime rescue mission. The video showed several commandos entering a building, while another building nearby was struck from the air.
Additional images and footage captured from a distance of 1.6km towards the south-west highlighted the destruction of the al-Huda mosque situated right in the middle of a congested refugee camp. A visible enormous gap could be seen that started at the top of the structure and continued downwards.
According to Khaled al-Taweel, he witnessed Apache and Cobra helicopters launching an assault on specific locations within the vicinity. Additionally, F-16 fighter planes and unmanned aerial vehicles were also present.
He conveyed to Reuters news agency that the level of fear and distress in Rafah was beyond anything he had ever witnessed before, surpassing even the intense portrayals in Hollywood, the United States, Libya, and Syria.
The Israeli operation resulted in the destruction of the al-Huda Mosque located in Rafah's refugee camp.
A young girl from Palestine who was wounded by shrapnel in her neck and is currently receiving medical attention at the Kuwait Speciality Hospital nearby shared that her father lost his life due to an attack on a camp where many displaced people lived.
While inside the tent with my family, we experienced the unexpected and terrifying sound of bullets being shot towards us. As my father investigated the situation, he informed us that there were demonstrations taking place. In the midst of speaking, a violent clash erupted, causing chaos and terror for all of us. These distressing events were recounted by Mai al-Najjar to Reuters.
New pictures taken by a satellite of the area where the abducted individuals were kept display a group of small tents that are within 100 meters (approximately 330 feet) of the site.
A medical expert from Kuwait Speciality Hospital reported that several individuals who were affected due to the attacks endured severe limb injuries such as amputation of their legs and hands. These victims comprised people of all age groups including children, women and elderly individuals. The hospital's video footage revealed the distressing sight of injured and deceased children.
On Monday morning, the health ministry in Gaza that is controlled by Hamas made an announcement stating that a minimum of 67 individuals had lost their lives. They also mentioned that this number may go up as they continued with the efforts of rescuing and recovering those impacted.
Hamas has stated that the attack is a continuation of Israel's actions in what it refers to as a "genocidal war" against the Palestinian people. The foreign ministry of the Palestinian Authority has criticized the incident, referring to it as an "Israeli massacre" in Rafah.