Israel announces it has freed two Hamas hostages during a night operation in Rafah

The Israeli security services announced that they had freed two hostages kidnapped on October 7 by Hamas fighters during an operation on the night of Sunday February 11 to Monday February 12, in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip

Israel announces it has freed two Hamas hostages during a night operation in Rafah

The Israeli security services announced that they had freed two hostages kidnapped on October 7 by Hamas fighters during an operation on the night of Sunday February 11 to Monday February 12, in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. This follows a series of Israeli strikes in the area, which left 52 dead according to the Hamas health ministry.

“Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were recovered during a nighttime operation in Rafah carried out jointly by the Shin Beth (Internal Security) army and the Israeli police,” according to a statement from these services. Abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, the two men “are in good medical condition.”

“Three terrorists were killed in the building where they were detained,” according to an initial report from the Israeli army, which had previously limited itself to confirming that it had “carried out a series of raids against terrorist targets in the south of the Gaza strip ". These strikes left at least 52 dead, according to the Hamas health ministry, which added that 14 houses and three mosques were hit in different areas of the city.

Israel's allies worried

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his army to prepare an offensive on Rafah, where most of the population of the Palestinian territory is currently massed, according to the UN. Hamas warned on Sunday that such an offensive would “torpedo” any agreement for the release of hostages it still holds in Gaza.

“Victory is within reach,” Benyamin Netanyahu declared on the American channel ABC News, calling Rafah the “last bastion” of the “Hamas terrorist battalions.” Israel will provide “safe passage for the civilian population to leave” the city, he added, without specifying where civilians could take refuge. However, the night's strikes do not seem to mark the start of this offensive, which worries the international community, including the United States, Israel's main ally.

American President Joe Biden thus urged the Israeli Prime Minister, during a telephone interview on Sunday, to “guarantee the security” of the Palestinian population while several states warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the event of an assault. on the crowded city. France, in a press release, for its part reiterated its “call for an end to the fighting” in order to “avoid a humanitarian disaster”.

Rafah, last refuge of Gazans

Furthermore, the Israeli police and army announced that they had killed two Palestinians responsible for stabbing attacks on Sunday evening, one on a police checkpoint in occupied and annexed East Jerusalem, and the other against an Israeli soldier in a dam near Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

The health ministry of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the autonomous areas of the West Bank, reported a 35-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli forces near Bethlehem. The Palestinian killed in East Jerusalem was a 15-year-old resident of the city, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

Rafah, which has become a gigantic encampment, is the last urban center where the Israeli army has not yet penetrated and the main entry point for humanitarian aid, insufficient to meet the needs of the population threatened in the middle of winter by the famine and epidemics.