Israel announces it has freed two Hamas hostages during a night operation in Rafah

The Israeli security services announced that they had released two hostages kidnapped on October 7, 2023 by Hamas fighters, during an operation on the night of Sunday February 11 to Monday February 12 in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. This follows a series of Israeli strikes in the area, which left “around 100 dead” according to the Hamas health ministry.

“Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were recovered during a night operation in Rafah carried out jointly by the Shin Beth army [sécurité intérieure] and the Israeli police », according to a press release from these services. Abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, the two men “are in good medical condition”.

Around 250 people were kidnapped in Israel on October 7 and taken to the Gaza Strip. A week-long truce in November allowed the release of 105 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Before the release of the last two hostages, Israel estimated that 132 were still detained in Gaza, of whom 29 were believed to have died.

“Three terrorists were killed in the building where [les otages] were detained »according to an initial assessment by the Israeli army, which had previously limited itself to confirming that it had “carried out a series of raids against terrorist targets in the southern Gaza Strip”. These strikes left around a hundred dead, according to the report of the Hamas health ministry, which added that 14 houses and three mosques were hit in different sectors of the city. The Israeli offensive has left more than 28,000 dead in the Gaza Strip, the vast majority civilians, according to the Hamas health ministry.

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Rafah, last refuge of Gazans

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his army to prepare an offensive on Rafah, where most of the population of the Palestinian territory is currently massed, according to the UN. Hamas warned on Sunday that such an offensive “would torpedo” any agreement for the release of the hostages he still holds in Gaza.

“Victory is within reach”Benyamin Netanyahu declared on the American channel ABC News, describing Rafah as “last bastion” of the “Hamas terrorist battalions”. Israel will ensure “a secure passage for the civilian population so that they can leave” the city, he promised, without specifying where civilians could take refuge. However, the night’s strikes do not seem to mark the start of this offensive, which worries the international community, including the United States, Israel’s main ally.

American President Joe Biden thus urged the Israeli Prime Minister, during a telephone interview on Sunday, to “guarantee security” of the Palestinian population while several States have warned against “humanitarian catastrophe” in the event of an assault on the overpopulated city. France, in a communicatedfor his part reiterated his “ call for an end to the fighting »in order to “to avoid disaster » humanitarian.

Rafah, which has become a gigantic encampment, is the last urban center where the Israeli army has not yet penetrated and the main entry point for humanitarian aid, insufficient to meet the needs of the population threatened in the middle of winter by the famine and epidemics.

The World with AFP

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