The IDF launched a coordinated lightning operation in Rafah to extract the hostages
According to IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari, Israeli forces coordinated a lightning ground and air operation on what they said were Hamas targets in Rafah to free the two hostages.
“In a joint rescue operation by the IDF, security forces and special police forces, the Special Police Unit, we rescued Louis Har and Fernando Marman, who were kidnapped by Hamas in Nir Yitzhak on October 7,” Hagari said. Monday's press conference. “There was a wave of airstrikes and strikes by the Israeli Air Force in conjunction with the Southern Command.”
Hagari said the covert operation to extract under fire began at 1:49 a.m. local time, and the accompanying airstrikes began a minute later at 1:50 a.m.
“At 01:49am, special forces entered the building in the center of Rafah,” he said. “At 01:50 the Air Force and the Southern Command launched an airstrike, allowing forces to isolate and attack Hamas terrorists in the area.”
Hagari added that Israeli special forces “warmed and protected the two hostages with their own bodies” when they were attacked by captors on the second floor of a building.
Within minutes, the two hostages were taken under fire by Hamas fighters, Hagari added, and then taken to a “safe place” inside Rafah for medical care. They were then flown by helicopter from Gaza to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
“They deliberately tried to prevent us from rescuing them, inside a civilian building, in the middle of a civilian neighborhood. But we did,” he said in a statement released later in English. “This rescue mission underscores the importance of our ground operations in Gaza, including Rafah, when conditions allow.”
Hagari added that the “complex” operation had been planned “for a long time”.
“It was a very tense and exciting night,” he added.
Following the Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, the Palestinian Red Cross Society (PRCS) also reported that more than 100 people had been killed in overnight attacks. Many more are feared to be trapped in the rubble of the collapsed buildings.
From translator Michael Rosenblatt and CNN's Mike Schwarz. Additional reporting by Abeer Salman.