Israel says the two hostages were freed from Gaza in a special operation, 128 days after they were captured

Families of hostages and missing persons

Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Luis Haar, 70, hostages rescued by Israeli forces from Gaza.



CNN

The Israeli army announced on Monday that it rescued two hostages during a special operation carried out last night in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, which was subjected to continuous Israeli air strikes throughout the night.

The two hostages, 60-year-old Fernando Simon Marman and 70-year-old Luis Harr, were kidnapped 128 days ago during the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The Israeli army said that the two were in good medical condition and were transferred to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. She added that the joint operation was carried out in cooperation with the Israeli Security Agency and the Israeli Police.

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters on Monday that the “secret operation with extraction under fire” began at 1:49 a.m. local time, followed by airstrikes.

He added that the Israeli forces faced resistance and the hostages were taken out under Hamas fire before being transferred to a safe place inside Rafah to receive medical care. They were then airlifted from Gaza by helicopter.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant praised the “impressive release operation” in a statement on the “X” website, previously Twitter, saying that he followed the operation in the command center alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior leaders.

He added that the two hostages were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak. Nir Yitzhak was one of several kibbutzim near the border with Gaza that were attacked by Hamas militants during their attack on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people and took more than 240 hostage.

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The Israeli response has caused widespread destruction throughout Gaza. The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza said the cumulative toll since October 7 had risen to more than 27,500 dead.

Hatem Ali/A.B

Palestinians walk next to a residential building destroyed in an Israeli raid in Rafah, Gaza Strip, February 11, 2024.

News of the hostages' release comes at a time when Rafah is being bombed by Israeli attacks. More than 100 people were killed in overnight air strikes on the city of Rafah, and the death toll could rise as more people remain trapped under rubble, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Monday.

CNN cannot independently verify the numbers. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society had previously said that the city was witnessing “intense targeting.”

The Rafah municipality said on Monday that the raids targeted at least two mosques and about ten homes.

The Israeli occupation army confirmed on Monday that it carried out a “series of raids” on targets in the Shaboura area in the Rafah Governorate, south of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said in a statement that “the strikes have ended.”

Hamas condemned the raids on Monday, describing them as “attempts at forced displacement” and “horrific massacres against defenseless civilians and displaced children, women and the elderly.”

It also accused US President Joe Biden and his administration of bearing “full responsibility” for the killing of civilians.

On Sunday, Biden and Netanyahu discussed an agreement to secure the release of hostages in Gaza, according to a senior administration official, as well as an expected Israeli ground attack on Rafah.

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According to the White House, Biden “stressed his view that the military operation in Rafah should not continue without a credible and implementable plan to ensure the safety and support of more than a million people who have taken refuge there.”

Rafah has become The last refuge for Palestinians They flee south to avoid Israeli air and ground campaigns in the rest of the crowded strip. More than 1.3 million people are believed to be in Rafah, the majority of them displaced from other parts of Gaza, according to the United Nations.

They have no escape route left; The city is located on the border with Egypt, and the only crossing to that country has been closed for months along with the rest of the Gaza border.

International concern is growing ahead of the expected ground assault on Rafah, as Netanyahu shrugs off mounting criticism of the plans – saying calls not to enter Rafah are… Like telling Israel to lose the war. He pledged to provide safe passage for civilians, but provided few details.

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