RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military said it freed two hostages in the Gaza Strip early Monday, marking its move to free more than 100 people believed to be held by the Hamas militant group. A small but symbolic success was achieved in bringing the captives home.
The hostages were released in a raid that included a series of attacks on Israel. RafaThe city, on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, is home to 1.4 million Palestinians fleeing fighting elsewhere in Israel’s war with Hamas. At least seven people died.
Israel calls Rafah last Hamas stronghold in Gaza More than four months of war and hinted that its ground offensive may soon target the densely populated city.On Sunday, the White House said President Joe Biden had warned the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israel should not take military action against Hamas in Rafah without a “credible and enforceable” plan to protect civilians.
The military identified the rescued hostages as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were allegedly killed in the Oct. 7 cross-border attack that sparked the war. Kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak. Both were airlifted to Sheba Hospital in central Israel and are reported to be in good medical condition.They are only second and third hostage In November, a female soldier was rescued.
Witnesses said Monday’s raid included at least 15 airstrikes, flares and fire from Apache helicopters. Military neutral Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the operation was based on “accurate intelligence” and that the attack took place on the second floor of the building. A building that has been under surveillance for some time. He said Netanyahu was joined by Israel’s military chiefs and other senior officials as the attack unfolded.
Hamas militants killed an estimated 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 in the October 7 attack. Israel’s air and ground offensive has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, displaced more than 80 percent of the population and led to a massive humanitarian crisis, according to local health officials.
During a week-long ceasefire in November, more than 100 hostages were released. Israel says Hamas still holds about 100 hostages, while Hamas is holding the bodies of about 30 other hostages who were either killed on October 7 or died in captivity.three hostages manslaughter He was hunted by the army in December after escaping his captors.
The remaining hostages are believed to be scattered across the tunnels, hiding in poor conditions in tunnels. The rescue operation was a moral boost for the Israelis, but it was only a small step towards the release of everyone.
Idan Bergerano, Hal’s son-in-law, told Israel’s Channel 13 television station that he and his wife saw the released prisoners at the hospital. He said both men were thin but communicated well and were aware of their surroundings. Belgenano said Hal immediately told him as soon as he saw him: “It’s your birthday today, Mazhar Tov.”
Israel has made the repatriation of all hostages one of the main goals of the war, and Netanyahu has vowed to continue advancing Israel’s military offensive until a “total victory” is achieved, which includes destroying Hamas’s military and governance capabilities.
Concerns about Rafa
An Associated Press reporter in Rafah said an attack took place early Monday morning around the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah. Some people injured in the attack were taken to hospital.
The Israeli military said earlier it had struck “terror targets in the Shabra area” – a district in Rafah.
Palestinian health officials did not immediately provide any information on casualties. The military said at least three militants were killed in the attack. Associated Press reporters counted seven bodies.
Netanyahu said sending ground troops to Rafah was crucial to achieving Israel’s war goals. Biden urged Israel to use extreme caution before entering Rafah. An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians – more than half of Gaza’s population – are now crowded in Rafah, increasing the area’s population fivefold. Hundreds of thousands now live in sprawling tent camps and overcrowded U.N. shelters.
Biden’s comments during a phone call with Netanyahu on Sunday night were his strongest yet on possible action.Biden last week called out Israel’s military response in Gaza “Over the Peak,” It also seeks “urgent and concrete” steps to strengthen humanitarian aid. Israeli Channel 13 television said the conversation lasted 45 minutes.
Discuss potential ceasefire agreement A senior U.S. government official said that after weeks of diplomatic efforts, the “framework” is now “largely” in place to reach a deal to release the remaining hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian human safety. Capture and stop the fight.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that “disagreements remain” but declined to give details. Military pressure on Hamas in the southern city of Khan Younis in recent weeks has helped the group move closer to accepting a deal, the official said.
Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the call. Hamas Al-Aqsa TV earlier quoted an unnamed Hamas official as saying any invasion of Rafah would “blow up” Talks brokered by US, Egypt and Qatar.
Ahead of Biden and Netanyahu’s speeches, two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said Egypt threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if it sends troops to Rafah. The Camp David Peace Accords have been the cornerstone of regional stability for more than 40 years.Egypt fears massive military conflict as Palestinian refugee influx who may never be allowed back.
Where should civilians go?
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries also received warnings Serious consequences If Israel enters Rafah.
“Israel’s attack on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and cause severe tensions with Egypt,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X Human Rights Watch said forced displacement was a war crime.
In Rafah, some displaced people are packing their bags again. Rafat and Fedaa Abu Haloub fled northern Beit Lahia early in the war, loading their luggage onto a truck. “We don’t know where we can safely take him,” Fedda said. “We have to move every month.”
Aum Mohammed al-Ghaimri, a displaced person from Nuserat, said she hoped Egypt would not allow Israel to force Palestinians to flee to Sinai “because we don’t want to leave”.
Fierce fighting continues in central Gaza and Khan Younis.
Gaza Ministry of Health It said on Sunday that the bodies of 112 victims across the territory had been sent to hospitals in the past 24 hours. The death toll since the war began is 28,176. The ministry did not distinguish between civilians and armed personnel but said most of the victims were women and children.
Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press reporters Sam Magdy in Cairo and Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.