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Israel shares video of rescued hostages after military operation in Rafah

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Israel released a video late Monday showing the rescue of two hostages after Israeli forces stormed a heavily guarded apartment in the Gaza Strip.  

The video, released on Israel’s official X account, shows Shayetet 13 troops in the first meeting with the rescued hostages before they were whisked away to a hospital by helicopter. 

“Welcome back. How are you guys? How are you feeling?” one of the troops asks. 

“Shocked, shocked, all right,” responds one of the freed hostages. 

The army identified those rescued as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on Oct. 7. They also hold Argentinian citizenship. They are among just three hostages to be rescued; a female soldier was rescued in November.

Har’s son-in-law, Idan Begerano, who saw the released captives at the hospital where they were airlifted, said the two men were thin and pale, but communicating well and aware of their surroundings.

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Begerano said Har told him immediately upon seeing him: “You have a birthday today, mazal tov.” The men held long, tearful embraces with their relatives at the hospital, according to a video released by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The rescue came amid an overnight air raid on the southern town of Rafah, which is packed with some 1.4 million people, most of whom fled their homes elsewhere in Gaza to escape fighting. 

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said special forces broke into a second-floor apartment in Rafah under fire at 1:49 a.m. Monday, accompanied a minute later by airstrikes on surrounding areas. He said Hamas militants were guarding the captives and that members of the rescue team shielded the hostages with their bodies as the battle erupted.

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Dozens of explosions could be heard around 2 a.m. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry, said at least 67 people, including women and children, were killed in the strikes.

More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is now crammed into Rafah, where hundreds of thousands live in sprawling tent camps and overcrowded U.N. shelters.

In Hamas’ cross-border raid on Oct. 7, an estimated 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed, and militants took 250 people captive, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel’s offensive has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians in the territory, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians. 

The Health Ministry said Monday that more than 12,300 Palestinian children and young teens have been killed in the conflict. About 8,400 women were also among those killed, meaning that women and minors together would make up three-quarters.

Israel has disputed these figures, claiming to have killed about 10,000 Hamas fighters. 

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