The Israeli military has made a dramatic rescue of two hostages held by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the second such successful operation of its kind since October 7. The army identified the rescued hostages as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the October 7 cross-border attack.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced on Monday evening that the rescue was made during a dramatic and clandestine operation carried out after midnight on Sunday. Army spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters that the hostages had been held in a second-floor apartment in Rafah. The building was guarded by Hamas gunmen, who had also occupied the nearby buildings.
The IDF men breached the building around 1 a.m. in an area that Israeli forces had not yet manoeuvred. "Reaching the target in the heart of Rafah was very complex," Hagari said. The Israeli troops killed the three guarding the hostages, following which fighting broke out between the troops and Hamas gunmen. "There was intense firepower from the air. Fire was opened from nearby buildings. The Air Force struck intensively there," he said.
"The troops pulled Louis and Fernando out of the apartment and rescued them under fire, until they reached the safe zone," Hagari said, adding that the Israeli soldiers hugged and protected Louis and Fernando with their bodies. "This was a complex rescue operation under fire based on sensitive intelligence. A professional and accurate operation," Hagari said, adding that they had prepared for the operation for a long.
One soldier was lightly injured in the operation, but beyond that, no Israelis were hurt.
The hostages were taken in armoured vehicles out of Rafah within an hour and was then put in a military helicopter that brought them to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan for examination. Both are said to be in good health.
According to Israeli media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant joined the command centre to watch the operation live along with IDF officials.