The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rescued two Israeli hostages on Sunday in the town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, bringing elation to Israel and hope for the rescue of more hostages.
In a joint statement, the IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA), and Israel Police said:
It was cleared for publication that during a joint IDF, ISA, and Israel Police operation in Rafah, overnight, two Israeli hostages were rescued, Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70), who were kidnapped by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7th from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak.
They are both in good medical condition, and were transferred for medical examination at the Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital.
Security forces will continue to operate with all means in order to return the hostages home.
According to online biographies, both hostage are originally from Argentina. Their release comes after the visit last week of Argentinian President Javier Milei, who visited families of Argentinian-Israeli hostages and survivors of the October 7 terror attack. Both men were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzchak during the October 7 terror attack.
According to Israel’s Army Radio, the hostages were rescued from within, or underneath, a “refugee” camp in Rafah. Rafah is a town on the border with Egypt that is the last stronghold of Hamas, with four battalions thought to be hiding in the city.
Earlier Sunday, President Joe Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attack Hamas in Rafah until there was a credible plan for evacuating the roughly one million Palestinian civilians who have fled there from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.
Many other nations have also tried to urge Israel not to attack Hamas in Rafah, ostensibly because of a humanitarian crisis that could ensue, or because of the possible flight of Palestinians into Egypt. Netanyahu has ordered an evacuation and attack plan.
The two hostages were the first ones rescued since the IDF rescued female soldier Ori Megidish in October. Three hostages were accidentally killed in December after they had escaped their Hamas captors and tried to cross over to Israeli lines during a battle.
Update: Israel’s Army Radio reported that the hostages were rescued from a building in an operation involving both ground forces and airstrikes, and that several terrorists were killed in the battle. The Israel Air Force struck targeted buildings after the hostages had been extracted.