Israel frees four hostages kidnapped by Hamas during a military operation in central Gaza

The Israeli army has rescued four of the hostages held by Hamas since the start of the conflict during a military operation in central Gaza, the Israeli army said in a statement. The rescue coincided with an Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat, in an area where thousands of Palestinians seek refuge, and where at least 210 people have been killed and another 400 injured, medical sources told the Reuters agency.

It is still unknown whether the bombing and the rescue were part of the same initiative. The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has reported that the number of dead and injured matches the number of victims who arrived at the Martyrs of Al Aqsa hospitals, in the nearby city of Deir al Balah, and at the small Al Awda maternity hospital Nuseirat.

“We condemn the aggression of the 'Israeli' occupation against civilians, children and women, and against safe houses in the Nuseirat camp and against the central government, and we hold the occupation and the US government fully responsible for this catastrophic crime involving the The blood of dozens of innocent civilians was shed,” the Palestinian militia leadership said.

The government of Israel, in turn, announced this Sunday that the hostages had been released “in a complex joint daytime operation by the IDF, the International Security Academy and the Israeli Police in Nuseirat. The four hostages, who were held by Hamas for 246 days, are Noa Argamani, 25 years old; Almog Meir Jan, 21; Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40. They were all kidnapped by Hamas during the Nova Festival celebrations on October 7.

According to information from the Israeli army, they are all “in good health” and have been taken to a hospital to undergo further medical examinations. “Once again we have shown that Israel does not surrender to terrorism and is acting with boundless creativity and courage to bring our kidnapped people home,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The rescue operation was carried out in “two different locations in the heart of Nuseirat”, an area where thousands of Palestinians displaced from the north of the Strip are seeking refuge. Gaza's health ministry shortly before the Israeli government's announcement denounced a bomb attack in the same area that killed at least 210 people and injured more than 400, the international agency Reuters said. “The enormous number of martyrs and wounded confirms that we are dealing with a terrible massacre perpetrated by the Israeli occupation in the occupied central territory,” read a statement from Gaza authorities.

The Gaza Ministry says that the bodies of the victims and dozens of injured people are being transported with great difficulty to Al Aqsa hospital, one of the few still operating in the Gaza Strip: “The ambulances and the emergency system cannot be deployed at all calls to transfer the injured.”

Nusierat has been the target of serious airstrikes in recent weeks. Thursday Another Israeli bombing killed at least 27 people to an UNRWA school in the area, where dozens of Palestinians were housed. “The armed forces are currently attacking terrorist infrastructure in the Nuseirat area,” the Israeli army said early this morning.

Daniel Hagari, head of the Israeli army, announced the release of the hostages and praised the work of the Israeli security forces. “It was a complex, high-risk mission, based on precise intelligence, carried out in daylight, in two separate buildings, deep in Gaza,” he told a news conference. The Israeli commander has assured that the battalion sent to Nuseirat has been training for the mission for weeks. “This is what we do. When we say we will do everything possible to bring our troubled people home, we mean it. “We will not stop the fight for their freedom.”

“Enormous joy and the heart is bursting with happiness! We will continue together to bring them all back,” celebrated Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz in a message distributed on his X profile. Videos of the reunions between some of the freed hostages and their families are already being shared on the social network. Close relatives. The news was announced over public address systems at markets and beaches in Israel, to applause and cheers from the population.

The news is especially welcome because one of the freed hostages is Noa Argamani, whose voice and face have become internationally known. The video of his kidnapping by Hamas on October 7 went around the world. The Islamist militia separated her from her boyfriend, with whom she had attended the electronic music festival and whom they also captured, and forcibly took her away on a motorcycle. The Palestinian group has also used Argamani's voice during these months of captivity to send update messages on the status of the hostages. Also in videos, part of a campaign to ask the Israeli government for a ceasefire in the enclave.

The young woman thanked Israeli President Isaac Herzog for her rescue, with whom she was able to speak by telephone upon arrival at the hospital in Israel.

On June 3, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu announced the deaths of four other hostages in Gaza. Israeli authorities reported at the time that their bodies were still in the hands of Hamas and could not be recovered. The militia captured 250 people during the attack in southern Israel on October 7. About half were released in November during a weeklong ceasefire and the Israeli army has since rescued seven.

Netanyahu has been facing mounting international pressure for weeks to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas. United States President Joe Biden is pushing for an agreement between the two announced on May 31 that Israel had already submitted a proposal for the release of hostages and the cessation of hostilities through Qatari mediation. The hostages' families plan to demonstrate in Israel this Saturday evening to demand permission from the prime minister, who insists that military force is the best way to guarantee the return of the hostages.

The defense minister postpones his resignation announcement after the rescue

Israeli government war cabinet member and Defense Minister Benny Gantz has decided to postpone the appearance in which he was expected to announce his resignation. Gantz announced last May that if Netanyahu did not present a post-war plan for Gaza, he would resign from his position in the executive branch.

Gantz's departure from the emergency government established after the Hamas attacks would have lost the support of his centrist partners in both the executive branch and parliament, in favor of the ultranationalist parties. These have also redoubled pressure on Netanyahu to prevent him from reaching a ceasefire deal in Gaza.



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