Israel launched a special forces operation that freed two Israeli hostages in Rafah amid airstrikes early Monday that Palestinian health authorities said killed at least 100 people and injured hundreds in the southern Gaza Strip city. from Gaza. A joint operation by the Israel Defense Forces, the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet and the Special Police Unit freed Fernando Simón Marman, 60, and Luis Har, 70, the Israeli army reported.
“It has been a very complex operation,” acknowledged Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman. “We have been working on this operation for a long time. We were waiting for the right conditions.” The hostages were held on the second floor of a building that was opened with an explosive charge during the assault, in which intense exchanges of fire took place with neighboring buildings, Hecht said.
Fernando Simón Marman, 60, and Luis Har, 70, are in good health.
Both are in good health, in “stable condition,” reported the Sheba hospital where they were treated after their release. “I am very happy to announce that tonight the two freed hostages landed here, at the Sheba medical center, the largest hospital in Israel, where they were received in the emergency room and our staff performed initial examinations,” reported Dr. Arnon Afek. , hospital director.
Fernando Simón Marman and Norberto Luis Har were taken hostage along with Clara Marman, 62 years old, Fernando’s sister and Norberto’s partner; in addition to his sister, Gabriela Leimberg, 59, and her daughter, Mia Leimberg, 17. Both the Leimbergs and Clara Marman were released on November 28 as part of a temporary one-week ceasefire agreement brokered by Qatar and the United States between Hamas and Israel, a week of truce that allowed the exchange of 105 hostages for 240 Palestinian prisoners.
Mia Leimberg garnered media attention when she was released along with her dog Bella, who accompanied her during her kidnapping and captivity in the Gaza Strip. “Fernando and Luis, welcome back home and a warm hug to the families. I strengthen and congratulate the soldiers and commanders of the Israeli security forces for the heroic operation in Rafah. We will continue to do everything possible until the return of all kidnapped from the captivity of the murderous terrorist organization,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.
This is the second successful hostage rescue achieved by Israel, after capturing soldier Ori Megidish alive at the end of October, when the ground operation began in the Gaza Strip. Israeli President Isaac Herzog also congratulated the forces on the nighttime operation in Rafah, invoking the words of medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides: “There is no greater mitzvah than the redemption of captives.”
“I salute everyone who brought Fernando and Luis home in a daring rescue operation. “We will continue to act by all means to return all hostages to their homes,” Herzog added.
In addition to the three hostages rescued alive – two today – and eleven bodies of kidnapped people who died in captivity, 110 have been freed by Hamas, 105 of them as part of the only truce agreement reached in November. There are 130 hostages kidnapped on October 7 left inside the Strip, of which it is estimated that around thirty are dead; in addition to four captives that Hamas had held for years in the enclave, which included two dead soldiers.