Two Israeli-Argentinian hostages rescued in Rafah

The Israeli military reported that the two men were in “good medical condition”.

A raid in Rafah rescued two hostages with Israeli-Argentinian citizenship, while the southern Gazan city faced intense Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli military reported that the two men were in “good medical condition”. They identified the pair as Fernando Simon Marman, 60 years old, and Louis Har, 70 years old, from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak.

Rafah shelters about 1.5 million people. The health ministry run by Hamas stated that the overnight strikes killed dozens. This came after the international community cautioned Israel about its intended offensive in the city.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said that the hostages were located on the second floor of a building in Rafah.

He added that Israeli forces had “heavy exchanges of fire at several locations simultaneously, with many terrorists”.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) posted a statement on social media, saying that a “joint operation between the IDF, ISA [Israel Security Agency or Shin Bet], and Israel Police” rescued two Israeli hostages from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak: Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70).

The hostages underwent tests at Sheba Medical Center in central Israel.

Its acting director, Armon Aek, said: “I’m very happy to announce that this night, two released hostages landed here.

“They were received in our ER [examination room] and initial examination was conducted by our ER staff and they are in a stable condition.”

The IDF said that Hamas kidnapped them in the 7 October cross-border attack that sparked the ground invasion.

The niece of Marman said she was still “shaking” from the news of her uncle’s rescue. “When I saw him I couldn’t believe he was real,” Gefen Sigal Ilan told AFP.

Israel’s military started its operations in the Gaza Strip after Hamas gunmen killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel on 7 October and took 253 people hostage. Some of those hostages were later freed.

On Monday, the health ministry in Gaza run by Hamas said that 164 people died and 200 were injured in Gaza over the last day, but it is unclear how many of them were victims of Israeli attacks overnight. The ministry reports that 28,340 Palestinians died and nearly 68,000 were wounded in the Strip since 7 October.

Several countries and international organisations advised Israel not to carry out its planned offensive in Rafah, where around 1.5 million people sought refuge. Most of them escaped from the rest of Gaza.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said earlier that “over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area”, while Saudi Arabia warned of “very serious repercussions” if Rafah was attacked.

Rafah – on the border with Egypt – is the only open point of entry for humanitarian aid into Gaza.

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a Rafah offensive should not happen without measures to ensure the safety of civilians. Biden said Israel needed a “credible and executable plan” to protect the more than a million people in the city, according to the White House.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted it will go ahead and a plan is being prepared.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s Hamas rulers said there could be “tens of thousands” of casualties, warning that any operation would also undermine talks about a possible release of Israeli hostages held in the territory.

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