Middle East Crisis Israel Rescues 2 Hostages; Gazan Officials Say Dozens of Palestinians Are Killed
Israeli special operations forces raided a building in the southern Gazan city of Rafah early Monday to free two hostages held by Hamas, as Israel launched a “wave of attacks” to create cover for the operation, the military said. Dozens of Palestinians were killed in Rafah overnight, according to the Gazan health ministry.
The nighttime operation — only the second time Israeli forces said they had rescued captives in Gaza since the war began in October — prompted elation in Israel but fueled fear and panic among more than a million Palestinians who have crowded into Gaza’s southernmost city, seeking refuge from Israeli military actions farther north.
Palestinians in Rafah described a night of fear as Israeli strikes pummeled the area early Monday, killing and wounding dozens, according to the Gazan health ministry, and highlighting the cost of Israel’s military operation to free its hostages.
“I swear to God it was an indescribable night,” said Ghada al-Kurd, 37, who is among more than a million people sheltering in the southern Gaza city. “The bombing was everywhere — we were convinced that the Israeli army was invading Rafah.”
Israeli security forces said early Monday that they had freed two hostages who were being held in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, in only the second known rescue of its kind in Gaza since the start of the war. Officials in Gaza said that accompanying Israeli strikes had killed dozens of Palestinians in the city overnight.
The hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were undergoing tests at a hospital near Tel Aviv and were both in good condition, according to a joint statement from the Israeli military, the police and the domestic security agency, Shin Bet.
The Israeli special forces operation that military officials said freed two hostages early Monday in Rafah was accompanied by a wave of airstrikes that left dozens of Palestinians dead, according to Gazan health officials. The strikes pointed to the challenges facing Israel should its ground forces invade the crowded southern Gaza city.
Israeli leaders have framed an invasion of Rafah as an imperative to achieve their goal of eliminating Hamas. But the planning for such an operation, in a city where more than 1 million Palestinians have sought shelter, is fraught with complexity and will likely take some time, according to Israeli officials and analysts.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, a key figure in the ongoing efforts to push for a cease-fire in Gaza, will meet with President Biden this week in Washington, as Israel is poised to send troops into Rafah, a Gazan city housing more than a million displaced Palestinians.
In addition, the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, will travel to Cairo for continued talks on the hostages held in Gaza, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity about the talks."