Israeli forces rescue two hostages from apartment in southern Gaza

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Israeli forces rescue two hostages from apartment in southern Gaza

Louis Har and Fernando Marman, who were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, were freed from Rafah, where they were being held by Hamas terrorists

Louis Har (L) and Fernando Marman (2nd R) are reunited with loved ones at Sheba Medical Center, February 12, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)
Louis Har (L) and Fernando Marman (2nd R) are reunited with loved ones at Sheba Medical Center, February 12, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli special forces rescued two hostages from southern Gaza overnight and brought them to Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer for medical examination. 

The special forces raided an apartment in Rafah at 1:49am where Louis Har, 70, and Fernando Marman, 60,  were held hostage by Hamas terrorists while aerial coverage and a wave of strikes by the Israeli Air Force assisted the operation.

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Israel prepared for this operation for some time, “with the necessary preparations made and waiting for conditions that would allow its implementation”.

“On the second floor, Louis and Fernando were held by armed Hamas terrorists, who were present in the building along with terrorists who were in the adjacent buildings,” he said. “From the moment of the breach and entry into the apartment, Yamam forces shielded Louis and Fernando with their bodies, initiating a daring battle and heavy exchanges of fire at several locations simultaneously, with many terrorists.”

From L-R: Gabriela Leimberg kisses her brother Fernando Marman, Clara Marman next to her partner Louis Har, at the Sheba Medical Center, February 12, 2024 (Courtesy)

“By 01:50, aerial fire was activated by the Israeli Air Force and Southern Command, to enable the force’s disengagement and to strike Hamas terrorists in the area. At this stage, the forces extracted Louis and Fernando from the apartment and evacuated them under fire, accompanied by IDF forces who provided them protection in the Rafah area until they reached a safe zone.”

Har and Marman, who were both abducted from from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on 7 October, underwent an initial medical examination by the forces in the field and were airlifted by a helicopter for medical treatment at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, where they met with their families.

President Isaac Herzog issued a statement shortly after, saying: “There is no greater mitzvah than the redemption of captives. I salute everyone who brought Fernando and Louis home in a daring rescue operation. We will continue to act in every way to return all the hostages to their homes.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also welcomed the rescue of the hostages, saying: “Welcome home. I salute our brave fighters for the daring action that led to their release. Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages. We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”

Netanyahu later visited the Israel National Counter Terrorism Unit and met with the fighters and unit commander, who returned the hostages.

“Several days ago, the operation was brought to me for approval and I approved it. Afterward, several hours later, I thought about three things: One, I thought about the sacred nature of the mission. Two, I thought about the risks in relation to the chances, and there were risks. Three, I thought about you, the fighters. I thought about what would happen at the decisive moment, because from experience, I know that at the breakthrough moment, the gap between victory and tragedy is a millimeter,” he said.

“At 01:40 this morning, I saw you placing the charge and seconds later I heard ‘We have the hostages.’ You eliminated the abductors, the terrorists, and made your way back without injury – a successful operation, a perfect operation,” Netanyahu added.

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