Israel frees 2 hostages in Rafah under cover of air strike, health officials say 37 killed

DOHA/JERUSALEM — Israel launched a special forces operation that freed two Israeli hostages in Rafah amid air strikes early on Monday (Feb 12), which local health officials said killed 37 people and wounded dozens in the southern Gaza city.

A joint operation by the Israel Defence Force (IDF), Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security service and the Special Police Unit in Rafah freed Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70, the Israeli military said.

The two men, who were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on Oct 7, were in good condition and taken to the Tel Hashomer Medical Complex, the military said.

“It was a very complex operation,” Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Richard Hecht said. “We’ve been working a long time on this operation. We were waiting for the right conditions.”

The hostages were being held on the second floor of a building that was breached with an explosive charge during the raid, which saw heavy exchanges of gunfire with surrounding buildings, Hecht said.

At the same time, an air strike was carried out to allow the forces to be extracted, he said.


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