The Israeli military said it rescued two hostages being held in Gaza in a raid early Monday that reportedly killed dozens of Palestinians.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), said in a statement that Israeli forces carried out the raid at 1:49 a.m. local time in the heavily populated city of Rafah, where evacuations had been ordered just days before. Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were rescued from the “civilian building” where they were being held, Hagari said.
“This rescue mission underscores the importance of our ground operation in Gaza. We have a moral obligation to bring all our hostages home, an obligation that we will continue doing everything in our power to fulfill,” Hagari said.
The IDF said both hostages were in good medical condition and transferred for further evaluation in Israel. About 250 people were captured by Hamas militants during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel in which 1,200 people were killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the hostages home in a statement on Monday and praised the military’s actions.
“I salute our brave fighters for the daring action that led to their release. Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring the release of all our hostages. We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home,” he said.
The Associated Press reported that at least 67 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed in the Israeli airstrikes that provided cover for the operation, citing a spokesperson from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. An AP journalist counted about 50 bodies at the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.
The rescue mission comes as Israel is expected to expand operations into Rafah, a densely populated city in southern Gaza that is home to the largest refugee camp for Palestinians fleeing the war. It is estimated that more than 1.4 million people are staying in Rafah.
Netanyahu ordered evacuations of Rafah last week ahead of an anticipated invasion, but many world leaders have warned Israel against expanding operations into Rafah.
The Hamas-run health ministry said that more than 28,000 people in Gaza have been killed since the onset of the war, the AP noted.
The Associated Press contributed
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