Israel frees two hostages: “Many tears were shed”

As of: February 12, 2024 1:55 p.m

After air strikes on the south of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army managed to free two Israeli hostages. Numerous people were killed in the operation.

The operation began in the middle of the night – with heavy shelling and air strikes in the middle of Rafah, in the very south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli special forces then entered a house and freed two hostages who were being held there. Both men, one 61 and the other 70, are now free.

Idan Bejarno is the son-in-law of one of the men. He describes his relief on Israeli radio: “At 3:20 a.m. the phone rang, which worried us. Normally phone calls at this time are not a good sign. My wife answered and on the other side was the representative of the hostage families. He just said One sentence: Louis is in our hands, Fernando is in our hands. Come to Tel Hashomer Hospital!”

Doctors near Tel Aviv are now taking care of the two. A photo was published showing them: “They are thin, pale, exhausted, but with a smile that says a lot,” reports Bejarno.

129 days in captivity behind him

The two men were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak after the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th. They were last held in an apartment on the second floor of a house in Rafah. They have been held hostage for 129 days.

“It was a very emotional and moving reunion with a real hug that was tight and long,” says Bejarno. “Many tears were shed in the room. Louis and Fernando now need their time and peace – and first have to realize where they are.”

Civilian hostages freed for the first time

This is the first time the Israeli army has succeeded in freeing civilian hostages in this war. A female soldier was freed in the first days of the ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. In addition, 105 hostages were released during a ceasefire and a deal with Hamas.

Recently, however, there have been more and more reports of hostages who apparently died as a result of the fighting in the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers also shot three hostages who came out of a building with their arms raised, bare torsos and a white flag.

More than a million people seeking protection in Rafah

However, the attitude of the political and military leadership in Israel continues to be that only great pressure on Hamas and other terrorist organizations will lead to the release of hostages. Daniel Hagari, the army spokesman, now sees this confirmed: “This was a complex rescue operation under fire in the heart of Rafah, based on very precise reconnaissance. We prepared the operation for some time and waited for conditions that made it possible.”

The operation resulted in numerous deaths and injuries in Rafah – the numbers fluctuate between 48 and up to 100 deaths. The advance of the Israeli armed forces there is seen as very problematic. More than a million people have sought shelter from the fighting in Rafah. The USA, among others, has called on Israel to show consideration for the civilian population and bring them to safety.

Gray areas: Built-up areas in the Gaza Strip, hatching: Israeli army

UN: “Collective punishment” of the Palestinians

Israel’s government has promised this and has apparently set aside a largely undeveloped area in the southwest of the Gaza Strip. But it is completely unclear how the people there should be cared for.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, spoke of a “collective punishment” of the Palestinians in connection with the increasing attacks in Rafah, which violates international humanitarian law. Relatives of the hostages are calling on the Israeli government to use all avenues to free more hostages.

Jan-Christoph Kitzler, ARD Tel Aviv, tagesschau, February 12, 2024 12:08 p.m

source site