The Israeli military has said it rescued two male hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip – 128 days after they were kidnapped.
The two men were rescued from a residential building in the border town of Rafah during a raid that killed at least seven people.
The army identified the two men, both Argentinian-Israelis, as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, and said both were in good medical condition.
Both men were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the Oct. 7 cross-border attack that started the Israel-Hamas war.
Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the operation was based on ‘precise intelligence,’ and that the site had been watched for ‘some time’.
The army identified the two men, both Argentinian-Israelis, as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70
The army identified the two men as Fernando Simon Marman, left, and Louis Har, right, and said both were in good medical condition
In this photo provided by the Israeli military, shows an Israeli Air Force helicopter carrying the two hostages
Palestinians walk by a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024
According to Hecht, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Israel’s military chief and other top officials as the raid unfolded.
The hostages were being held on the second floor of a building that was breached with an explosive charge during the raid, which saw heavy exchanges of gunfire.
The raid that saved the Argentinian-Israeli hostages came as Argentina’s president, Javier Milei visted the nation. Milei was seen weeping as he visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
At the same time, an air strike was carried out to allow the forces to be extracted, he said.
The air strikes caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were asleep when the strikes started, said residents contacted by Reuters.
Israeli planes, tanks and ships took part in the strikes, with two mosques and several houses hit, according to residents.
The Israeli military said on Monday it had conducted a ‘series of strikes’ on southern Gaza that have now ‘concluded,’ without providing further details.
Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military has ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.
President Biden told 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.
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024
Joe Biden called on Israel to ‘not proceed’ with military action in southern Gaza without planning for the evacuation of Palestinian civilians
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing international warnings over his army’s planned offensive in Rafah amid its war with Hamas
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.
Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes, days after the U.S. leader said Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip had been ‘over the top’.
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 an estimated 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others in the Oct. 7 raid that triggered the war.
An Israeli air and ground offensive has killed over 28,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials.
Over 100 hostages were freed during a cease-fire in November. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity.
Netanyahu said in an interview on Sunday that ‘enough’ of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza were alive to justify Israel’s war in the region.
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.
Egypt warned on Sunday of ‘dire consequences’ of a potential Israeli military assault on Rafah, which lies near its border.
‘Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah,’ its foreign ministry added in a statement.