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The Israeli government claims to have successfully freed two captives who were being held by Hamas in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. The rescue operation involved a military raid and airstrikes that resulted in the deaths of 67 Palestinians and injuries to numerous others, according to reports from local health authorities.
Amid increasing concerns, there are worries of a significant Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which is home to many refugees. Despite US President Joe Biden’s urging for Benjamin Netanyahu to delay any invasion into Rafah until a strategy is in place to avoid extensive harm to civilians, Israel proceeded with a raid on Sunday night.
In the early hours of Monday, the Israeli military verified that it carried out a sequence of attacks in southern Gaza, which have now come to an end. According to the military, the strikes targeted “terror sites” in the district of Shaboura in Rafah.
The report stated that two individuals who had been held captive by militants in Rafah were successfully rescued. These individuals have been identified as 60-year-old Fernando Simon Marman and 70-year-old Louis Har, both of whom were taken by Hamas during their terrorist attack on southern Israel on October 7th.
Both individuals are in satisfactory physical health and were transported to Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital for a medical evaluation, according to a statement issued by the IDF and police.
Mr. Netanyahu proposed that Israel would continue to conduct rescue missions similar to the one on Sunday night, despite the significant number of casualties.
“I extend my warmest welcome to Fernando and Louis as they return home,” he announced. “I commend our courageous fighters for their bold actions that resulted in their liberation.”
“Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages. We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”
The government of Argentina expressed gratitude to Israel for saving the two hostages, who held citizenship in both Argentina and Israel.
A bombardment on Sunday evening caused fear and chaos in Rafah, a city located on the southern border with Egypt. Many Palestinians who have been forced to leave their homes due to Israel’s attacks and military progress have sought safety in this area. It is estimated that around 1.4 million Palestinians are currently displaced as a result of Israel’s actions against Hamas.
According to residents, Israeli aircraft, tanks, and ships were involved in the attacks, targeting two mosques and multiple homes in the Gaza Strip.
Ahmed*, a 54-year-old employee of the Palestinian Red Crescent, reported being abruptly awoken by massive explosions at 2am. Due to the ongoing war, his family had already evacuated their home in north Gaza, leaving him to sleep in a makeshift tent on the streets. It was during this time that the Israeli military initiated their assault on Rafah.
He recounted to The Independent that the sound of gunshots was nearby, causing us to huddle together and use blankets as our only form of protection.
“It was a frightening experience.”
Amjed* reported that the Israeli attack seemed to be targeting al-Shaboura camp in Rafah, which was only a short distance from where he was seeking shelter.
“It was a terrifying experience. We believed it was the beginning of a ground invasion due to the sound of helicopter gunfire and flares exploding in the sky. We are fortunate to have survived,” he recounted.
According to him, numerous families are now returning to Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah in order to escape.
Khan Younis, just north of Rafah, has been the focus of a ferocious Israel’s ground offensive in recent weeks and Deir al-Balah is in the centre of the tiny Gaza Strip.
He stated that the roads are extremely hazardous, but individuals are in dire need.
The majority of Palestinian refugees in Rafah were crowded into tents, makeshift shelters, schools, or hospital grounds as they had been displaced numerous times due to Israeli evacuation orders during the four months of conflict.
The foreign ministry of Palestine in the West Bank expressed strong disapproval of Israel’s ongoing “mass killings” in Gaza. On X, it stated that Israel is deliberately targeting innocent civilians and escalating the conflict in Rafah, with the intention of forcing civilians to flee their homes due to constant bombardment.
The recent killings during the occupation serve as proof that international warnings and concerns about the dire consequences of the war spreading to Rafah are valid.
Lt Col Richard Hecht, a spokesperson for the Israeli military, described the operation in Rafah as highly intricate and explained that it had been planned and prepared for a significant amount of time. He also stated that the operation was only carried out when the necessary conditions were met.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a representative for the Israeli Defense Forces, described it as a challenging mission to save lives while facing enemy fire in Rafah. The operation was made possible by crucial and sensitive information from the Intelligence Directorate and the Israel Security Agency.
He stated that the captives were situated on the second level of a structure that was forcibly entered using an explosive device during the operation.
The President of the United States and Mr. Netanyahu held a conversation on Sunday morning (US time) lasting approximately 45 minutes. This occurred just days after Mr. Biden criticized Israel’s military actions in the Gaza Strip as excessive and expressed serious concerns about the increasing number of civilian deaths in the Palestinian territory.
The White House reported that Mr. Biden expressed his belief that a military action in Rafah should not move forward unless there is a reliable and feasible plan in place to ensure the protection and assistance of the over one million individuals seeking refuge there.
The office of Mr Netanyahu has announced that they have instructed the military to create a strategy for removing inhabitants from Rafah and eliminating four Hamas groups that are stationed there.
Over 28,000 Palestinians have lost their lives as a result of Israeli retaliation following the October 7th attack by Hamas in southern Israel. According to Israeli reports, Hamas militants killed 1,200 individuals and took at least 250 as hostages during the attack.
In a Sunday interview, Mr. Netanyahu stated that there were still enough of the 132 Israeli hostages being held in Gaza to justify Israel’s actions in the region.
A high-ranking leader of Hamas was cited on Hamas-controlled Aqsa Television stating that any potential Israeli ground attack in Rafah would jeopardize the ongoing hostage exchange talks.
Egypt, after increasing security at its border with the city, issued a warning on Sunday about the severe repercussions of a potential Israeli military attack on Rafah.
The foreign ministry of Egypt stated that it is important to combine all global and local efforts in order to prevent any attacks on the city of Rafah in Palestine.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organisation, expressed worry about the assault on Rafah and repeated his plea for a ceasefire in Gaza.
He expressed particular worry about the recent assaults on Rafah, which have caused the majority of Gaza’s residents to flee due to the devastation. This statement was made at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
According to Mr. Ghebreyesus, only 15 out of the 36 hospitals in Gaza are currently operating at a partial or minimal capacity.
Sorry, I am not able to reword this as it is a source from independent.co.uk.