Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, both from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, are in good medical condition, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The hostages were held in a private house in Rafah, the Gaza city where Hamas leaders have fled. Israel has announced it will soon begin operations in the area to complete the destruction of the terrorist organization.
The IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police worked together to free the Israeli-Argentine nationals, the IDF said. They were kidnapped along with 251 other Israelis and foreign nationals during Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion and murderous rampage.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed their release after 129 days in captivity in a statement on Monday.
“I salute our brave warriors for the bold action that led to their liberation. Only the continuation of military pressure, until complete victory, will result in the release of all our abductees,” the premier said. “We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”
The operation had been planned for “a long time” stated IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari in a Monday press conference adding, “Conditions were not ripe to carry it out until now.”
The rescue operation, which began at 1 a.m., was “complex,” based on “highly sensitive” intelligence and carried out under fire in the heart of Rafah city, said Hagari.
The IDF said it carried out several airstrikes in Rafah as a diversion for the rescue operation. The rescue unit breached the building at 1:49 a.m.
The force came down from the roof and used an explosive to breach a door on the second floor, killing the Hamas guards and picking up the hostages. Other Hamas gunmen fired from nearby buildings but were engaged by Israeli forces deployed in the street in an hour-long battle.
B”H. What joyful news to wake up to. An even bigger reason for joy: all the 5 members of the family who were kidnapped are now back. The first 3 were released in the previous hostage deal, among them Maya Lemberg, 17, the girl with the pooch Bella. That’s one more family that’s… pic.twitter.com/JZkbyl81pp
— Izabella Tabarovsky (@IzaTabaro) February 12, 2024
“From the moment of the breach and entry into the apartment, Yamam forces shielded Louis and Fernando with their bodies, initiating a daring battle and heavy exchanges of fire at several locations simultaneously, with many terrorists,” said Hagari.
“The troops pulled Louis and Fernando out of the apartment and rescued them under fire, [escorting them] until they reached the safe zone,” he continued.
There are still 134 hostages remaining in Hamas custody, 32 of whom are confirmed dead and 20 of whom are feared dead. Hamas terrorists murdered some 1,200, mostly civilians, and wounded thousands more during the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. The death toll includes more than 360 young people murdered at close range at a musi festival.
–JNS News service | with permission