Israel rescues two hostages from the Gazan city of Rafah

The rescue operation took place after the Israeli government announced that it will invade the city bordering Egypt.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rescued two hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Monday. The rescue operation was carried out in Rafah, a southern city in the Gaza Strip. Israel asked the civilians to evacuate before beginning a ground incursion.

Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70) were taken to safety in a night operation carried out by the IDF, the Shin Bet intelligence services and the police. Both were taken to Sheba Medical Center.

Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), reported that both Marman and Har are in good health. At a post-liberation press conference, Hagari reported that the operation had been "complex," combining airstrikes and maritime cover with a ground raid. "It was a very tense and moving night."

The military spokesman also announced that there are still 134 hostages in Gaza: "If you can hear me now, we are very determined to bring you home and we will not miss any opportunity to bring you home."

Hostages held by Hamas

The liberation of Marman and Har is the second successful rescue operation carried out by Israeli forces. Ori Megidish, a soldier captured on October 7, was rescued in the first month of the war.

Another 105 captives returned to Israel during the temporary ceasefire in November, as part of an agreement between the Israeli government and Hamas. Four were released earlier and more than a dozen died in prison.

Israeli intelligence believes that at least 32 of the 136 remaining hostages are dead. This was revealed in an internal IDF report released by the press, although internal intelligence sources acknowledge that the numbers are uncertain.

Military operation in Rafah

At the end of last week, the government of Israel announced that it would invade the city of Rafah, where it assured that there were at least four armed battalions of the terrorist group. It also asked civilians to leave the city before the operation began.

The Biden administration opposed the operation, although it later moderated its criticism. During a call on Sunday, the president told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he needs to hammer out a "credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there" before launching the attack. They also discussed releasing more hostages and how to ensure assistance reaches Palestinian civilians.

This weekend Israeli troops also bombed identified terrorist targets in the city, according to the Times of Israel.