Two hostages rescued by Israel from Gaza’s Rafah amid airstrikes; Argentinian President welcomes operation

Tel Aviv [Israel], February 12 (ANI): Israel Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday hailed the "impressive rescue operation" in which two hostages were rescued from Hamas captivity in Gaza, the Times of Israel reported.

The overnight rescue, amid air strikes, marks the second such operation of its kind since October 7.

"Along with the prime minister and top commanders I followed the operation from the war room. I offer my full appreciation to the IDF, Shin Bet and the National Counter-Terrorism Unit," Gallant was cited by the daily.

Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Norberto Louis Har (70) who were kidnapped by the Hamaz from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7 are in good condition and have been taken to Tel Hashomer Medical Complex, the military said.

Detailing the rescue operation in Gaza’s southern Rafah neighbourhood, Israel Defence Force (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that it was a joint operation of the IDF with Shin Bet security service and the Special Police Unit.

"Reaching the target in the heart of Rafah was very complex," IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Hagari was cited by the Times of Israel. "Conditions were not ripe to carry it out until now, and we waited for them to ripen," the spokesperson added.

He said that forces clandestinely arrived at the building, in which the hostages were being held on the second floor, at around 1 am, and carried out a very complex action.

The spokesperson said that the forces then broke into the building through a locked door and exchanged fire with gunmen in the building and in adjacent buildings, while extracting the hostages to armoured vehicles.

"There was intense firepower from the air. Fire was opened from nearby buildings. The Air Force struck intensively there," he said according to the Times of Israel.Hagari said there one soldier was lightly injured and there were no fatalities.

"We have 134 more hostages and we will continue to do everything to bring them home," Hagari said.

Earlier, the Israeli military confirmed that it had carried out a wave of airstrikes against "significant" targets in the Shaboura area in southern Gaza’s Rafah.

Israel’s military launched its operations in the Gaza Strip after at least 1,200 people were killed and about 240 people were taken hostage by Hamas attacks on Israeli communities near Gaza border on October 7, 2023.

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, according to the White House.

Biden over a 45-minute call discussed ongoing war against Hamas, aid to Gazans, efforts to release remaining hostages, the Times of Israel reported. However, the Israeli daily citing an NBC interview aired on Sunday, said that Netanyahu insisted the Rafah operation would go ahead "while providing safe passage for the civilian population so they can leave."Meanwhile, Argentine President Javier Milei welcomed the release of the two hostages, who had immigrated to Israel from Argentina.

Milei who had visited Israel days ago in a statement said, "The Office of the President thanks the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police for having successfully completed the rescue of the Argentines Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har."The statement on social media platform X said, "During his visit to the State of Israel, President Javier Milei reiterated to President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the request for the release of each of the Argentine hostages, and continues to firmly maintain his condemnation of Hamas terrorism." (ANI)