IDF rescues two male hostages, 70 and 60, in special overnight raid in south of Gaza Strip 128 DAYS after they were snatched by Hamas terrorists: More than 100 Israelis are still held captive

The Israeli military said it has rescued two male hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip – 128 days after they were kidnapped.

The two men were rescued from a residential building in the border town of Rafah during a raid that killed at least seven people.

The army identified the two men, both Argentine-Israeli, as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, and said both were in good medical condition.

Both men were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the October 7 cross-border raid that started the Israel-Hamas war.

Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht said the operation was based on “precise intelligence” and that the site had been monitored “for some time”.

Fernando Simon Marman

Louis Har

The military identified the two men as Fernando Simon Marman, left, and Louis Har, right, and said both were in good medical condition

In this photo provided by the Israeli military, an Israeli Air Force helicopter is shown transporting the two hostages

In this photo provided by the Israeli military, an Israeli Air Force helicopter is shown transporting the two hostages

Palestinians walk past a residential building destroyed in an Israeli attack in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, February 11, 2024

Palestinians walk past a residential building destroyed in an Israeli attack in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, February 11, 2024

According to Hecht, Israel’s military chief and other top officials were joined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the raid unfolded.

The hostages were held on the second floor of a building that was breached with explosives during the raid, which sparked a fierce exchange of gunfire.

The raid that rescued the Argentine-Israeli hostages came as Argentina’s president, Javier Milei, visited the nation. Milei was seen crying when he visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

At the same time, an airstrike was carried out to make the forces withdraw, he said.

The airstrikes caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were sleeping when the attacks began, said residents contacted by Reuters.

Israeli planes, tanks and ships took part in the strikes, with two mosques and several houses hit, according to residents.

The Israeli army said on Monday it had carried out a “series of attacks” on southern Gaza that had now “ended”, without providing further details.

Before previous attacks on Gaza cities, Israel’s military ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.

President Biden told Netanyahu on Sunday that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there, the White House said.

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024

Joe Biden called on Israel 'not to proceed' with military action in southern Gaza without planning for the evacuation of Palestinian civilians

Joe Biden called on Israel ‘not to proceed’ with military action in southern Gaza without planning for the evacuation of Palestinian civilians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces mounting international warnings over his army's planned offensive in Rafah amid its war with Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces mounting international warnings over his army’s planned offensive in Rafah amid its war with Hamas

Aid agencies say an attack on Rafah would be catastrophic. It is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes, days after the US leader said Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip was “over the top”.

Netanyahu’s office said it had ordered the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions it said were deployed there.

Hamas militants killed an estimated 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others in the Oct. 7 raid that sparked the war.

According to local health officials, an Israeli air and ground offensive has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians.

More than 100 hostages were released during a ceasefire in November. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity.

Netanyahu said in an interview on Sunday that “enough” of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza are alive to justify Israel’s war in the region.

Hamas-run Aqsa Television quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying on Sunday that any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would “blow up” negotiations on the hostage exchange.

Egypt warned on Sunday of “terrible consequences” of a potential Israeli military attack on Rafah, which lies close to its border.

“Egypt called for the need to unite all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah,” its foreign ministry added in a statement.