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Israel Rescues Two Hostages in Miracle Operation

Rachel Loeb


Early morning on February 11, the Israeli Defense Forces freed two hostages which were being held in an al-Shabura refugee camp, in the north of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. The rescued hostages were identified as Fernando Simon Marman, age 60, and Louis Har, age 70. Both men are dual Israeli-Argentine citizens who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7 from the Nir Yitzhak kibbutz. They were taken hostage along with other family members, who were freed in November as part of a weeklong cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Over 100 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attacks are still being held in Gaza, and more than 1,200 people were killed in those initial attacks. This is only the second time that the Israeli defense forces have succeeded in rescuing hostages alive since the war began. 

The only other instance where Israeli forces successfully rescued a hostage was at the end of October. Troops found Ori Megidish, a soldier taken from the Nahal Oz army base, during a ground operation in Gaza. This raid came as Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his plan for Israeli forces to launch a broader offensive within Rafah with the goal of eliminating Hamas terrorists from the city. According to Army spokesman Daniel Hagari, special forces broke into the apartment at 1:49 AM Monday, and a minute later, was followed by a series of airstrikes. He then told reporters that this operation required “highly sensitive and valuable intelligence” and involved the Shin Bet, police special forces, and an IDF tank brigade. 

This operation required a complex process of approvals from officials of various statures including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The plan was also postponed several times because of its massive undertaking and uncertainties regarding the intelligence information. The two hostages were found on the second floor of an apartment building. During the operation, the rescue team broke through the apartment door with explosives and engaged in a firefight, killing several Hamas terrorists and safely securing the hostages. Although one soldier was injured, there were no Israeli casualties which makes this operation one of the most successful in all of IDF history. After this, the hostages were taken to a nearby area, protected by the IDF, where they were given a quick medical check before being airlifted to a hospital in central Israel. The hostages, 60-year-old Fernando Simon Marman and 70-year-old Louis Har had spent 128 days in captivity. Both men are in relatively good condition and have since reunited with their families. Their reunion with their families was captured in a video released by the Israeli military, where the two men cried and embraced their respective family members at the Sheba Medical Center.

One of the reasons why rescuing these hostages is so difficult is because Hamas has scattered them among several secret locations. While many hostages are likely hidden in Hamas’ tunnels, Israeli information has revealed that they have also been hidden in the homes of Gazan civilians. Hamas is holding the hostages in small groups, which makes large rescue operations more difficult, as any attack has the risk of killing hostages. For this reason, planning an operation takes a lot of time and information, and the IDF generally does raids without the explicit goal of finding hostages. The remaining hostages are believed to be spread out and likely in poor conditions. Israel has identified the return of the hostages as a key objective in the war. Despite international scrutiny, Netanyahu remains resolute in continuing Israel's military offensive, insisting on achieving "total victory" and has described Rafah as the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

While Israel still has a long way to go to eliminate Hamas as a threat and bring back the innocent civilians taken, this mission is a positive milestone in Israel’s fight and has forever impacted the lives of the hostages and their families.

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