Home News Israel rescues 4 hostages in attack that killed dozens of Gazans

Israel rescues 4 hostages in attack that killed dozens of Gazans


Israeli soldiers and special forces police rescued four hostages from Gaza on Saturday amid an intense air and ground assault and flew them by helicopter to Israel to be reunited with their families. The news drew cheers in Israel, where concerns have grown over the fate of about 120 remaining captives after eight months of war.

Residents of the town of Nusserat, where the hostages were being held, reported heavy shelling during the rescue operation. Khalil Daklan, an official at a hospital in the city, told reporters that dozens of Palestinians had been killed and that hospital wards and corridors were packed with the wounded.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hajari told reporters that the rescue operation began around 11 a.m. Saturday when troops found four hostages in two buildings where Hamas militants were being held. He said Israeli troops came under fire but managed to extract the hostages using two helicopters. One special forces police officer died.

The freed hostages, Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, were kidnapped by Palestinian militants from the Nova music festival on Oct. 7 in a Hamas-led attack that killed about 1,200 people and took 250 hostages. Israeli authorities said in a statement that the four were in good health and had been transferred to an Israeli hospital for further examination.

The fate of the hostages has put enormous political pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government is widely criticized for its own reasons in no rush to end the conflict or resolve the question of who will rule Gaza after the war.

Benny Gantz, a member of Netanyahu’s wartime cabinet who has threatened to resign over Netanyahu’s refusal to discuss post-war plans for Gaza in light of the hostage rescue, postponed indefinitely a news conference scheduled for Saturday evening, citing “recent events.”

Israeli military spokesman Hagari said the Israeli Air Force
In order to allow the Israeli army to safely rescue the hostages, the Israeli army launched a violent attack on Nuseraat during the rescue operation.

“The mission was carried out in the heart of a civilian-populated area, with Hamas deliberately hiding in houses occupied by civilians while the militants guarded the hostages,” Mr. Hajari said.

Videos showed people running for cover as bombs rained down. Gaza’s Health Ministry said streets were littered with rubble after the airstrikes and ambulance and emergency services in central Gaza were unable to respond to the many calls to take the wounded to hospitals.

The Ministry of Health shared video footage from inside Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital near Nusserat showing chaotic scenes as medical staff struggled to treat bloodied victims lying side by side on the floor. Two men held intravenous fluid bags next to a victim with a bandaged face writhing under a blanket.

In the chaos following the attack, reports of the number of dead and injured varied widely. Two Gaza health officials said the Nusseraat attack killed more than 200 people, including women and children. They did not say how many of the dead were militants.

Mr. Hajari said that based on the information he had seen, the death toll should be “less than 100.” Neither figure could be verified at this time.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, said in a Telegram post that Israel had killed some hostages during Saturday’s rescue operation. His statement could not be independently verified. He also suggested Hamas would take punitive measures against hostages who remain in Gaza.

The news of the hostages’ rescue brought joy to the entire Israeli people.

Israel’s main television stations broadcast the rescue and aftermath live, breaking the usual Sabbath quiet and pre-recorded programming.

Spontaneous celebrations broke out across the country, with Israeli television showing rallies. In Tel Aviv, a lifeguard on a beach Announcing the rescue A group of sunbathers on the lifeguard tower cheered, according to social media posts.

The kidnapping of Ms. Aghamani, in particular, became a symbol of the brutality of Hamas’ October 7 attack. video Photos from the scene that day show Palestinian attackers taking Ms Argamani away on a motorbike as she screamed for help and turned to her boyfriend, Avinatan Or. His fate remains unknown.

After being rescued, Agamani spoke to Netanyahu on the phone. According to a recording of the call released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Agamani said: “I am so excited. I haven’t heard Hebrew for a long time.”

In a recorded video statement, Ms Algamani’s father, Yaakov Algamani, thanked everyone involved in securing his daughter’s freedom, including Mr Netanyahu.

“But we must not forget — there are 120 hostages who must be released,” said Mr. Aghamani, who called on Israelis to attend weekly rallies in solidarity with the remaining hostages in Gaza. “We must do everything, by every possible means, to bring them back to Israel, to their families.”

President Biden said in Paris on Saturday that he welcomed the “safe rescue of four hostages and their return to Israel to be reunited with their families,” adding: “We will not stop working until all the hostages are home and a ceasefire is achieved, which is necessary.” Biden made the remarks after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant praised the operation, calling the actions of Israeli soldiers, special forces and intelligence services “complex” and saying they “showed extraordinary courage under heavy fire.”

Hagari said Israeli intelligence officers spent weeks trying to gather all the information needed for the operation, and that final approval was given by Israeli military chief of staff Herzi Halevi and the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence service on Saturday morning.

An Israeli police spokesman said that the Israeli police special forces Yamam also participated in the attack and one of its members, Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, was seriously wounded in the fighting and later died of his injuries.

The United States is also involved. A small group of American rescue workers based in Israel is assisting the Israeli military in the rescue effort by providing intelligence and other support, said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing operations.

The last successful hostage rescue was in February, when Israeli special forces raided a building in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and Release two prisoners Controlled by Hamas.

The first hostage rescued by Israeli security forces was soldier Ori Megidish. Rescue It happened in late October, three weeks after the Hamas-led attack Megidish, then 19, was abducted from the Nahal Oz military base on the Israeli-Gaza border, where she was serving as a field observer, days after Israel began a full-scale ground invasion of northern Gaza.

While Saturday’s hostage release is cause for celebration, rescuing all 120 captives appears unlikely. That would appear to require a political solution, which is what Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is seeking when he visits the Middle East in the coming days.

The secretary of state is expected to push for a plan calling for a temporary ceasefire that would lead to a permanent ceasefire, the release of hostages and Israel’s eventual withdrawal from Gaza.

The trip, which will include Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Qatar, will be Mr. Blinken’s eighth visit to the region since the conflict began. In a statement on Friday, the State Department said Mr. Blinken will press for agreement on a ceasefire proposal to “alleviate suffering in Gaza, enable a massive increase in humanitarian aid, and allow Palestinians to return to their communities.”

Isabel Kerzner and Adam Rasgon Reporting from Jerusalem, Yara Bayoumi From London and Michael D. Sher From Paris.

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