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Two Hostages Rescued in Gaza During Daring Rafah Operation
Israelis celebrated the daring rescue operation in the Rafah section of Gaza that brought home two elderly hostages on Monday. “‘You have no greater mitzvah than redeeming captives’ (Rambam).
The IDF announced the rescue of 70 year old Norberto Louis Har and 61 year old Fernando Simon Marman early Monday morning in what was detailed to be a risky but successful operation. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who serves as the IDF Spokesman, detailed the operation, whereby members of Israel’s elite Yamam unit, the Shin Bet, and the IDF entered the densely populated Rafah city in southern Gaza.
Arriving at 1 am, they entered a building and headed to “the second floor where the hostages were held,” according to Hagari. After killing a number of terrorists, they took the hostages, taking them to a safe area where they were airlifted to Israel. During the operation troops were given “intense firepower from the air. Fire was opened from nearby buildings. The Air Force struck intensively there.”
According to the IDF, no soldiers were killed during the rescue operation while the Hamas-run Health Ministry which does not distinguish between civilians and terrorists claimed that over 100 Palestinians were killed.
“Fernando and Louis – welcome home. I salute our brave warriors for the bold action that led to their liberation. Only the continuation of military pressure, until complete victory, will result in the release of all our abductees,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”
The rescued hostages were brought to Sheba Medical Center in central Israel where they were checked and reunited with their families.
The niece of Fernando, Gefen Sigal Ilan, told Israeli media “They came back pale and thin, they haven’t seen sunlight for four months and it shows on them. They both really like good food, so little by little they will get back to enjoying it.”
The father of Eldor said on Monday “No soldier who was kidnapped, no hostage, and no victim of this horror must be in vain. It’s time to bring them all back, we can’t abandon them.”
The operation in the Rafah area is the first public entry by Israeli forces into the southernmost portion of the Gaza Strip, where an estimated 1.5 million Gazans are sheltering after being evacuated from their homes elsewhere in the Strip. Despite the mass of Gazans in Rafah, bordering Egypt, the neighboring Arab states, and Western governments have refused to let any refugees leave the coastal enclave. Objections to operations in Rafah have come from them all, including US President Joe Biden who told Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday that the IDF should not enter Rafah without proper plans to protect civilians.
Similarly, British Foreign Minister David Cameron said he is “deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive” in Rafah. European Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell also said an operation would result in a “unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe.”
Netanyahu has been firm in pushing Israel’s need to enter Rafah, known as a Hamas stronghold and the last part of the Strip where they have in-tact military battalions. Additionally, it is thought that Hamas leadership is hiding in tunnels beneath Rafah. Netanyahu told ABC News on Sunday, “We’re going to do it. We’re going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion.”
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Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer
i24 News – Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided a review to fellow ministers of weapons and documents belonging to Hamas, which were collected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Document and Technical Means Collection Unit (Amshat) operating in the Gaza Strip.
“This morning we are hosting the government meeting at the IDF, in the defense establishment, to show the ministers exactly how we are achieving and deepening our achievements and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant explained.
“You can see a small part of the things here – missiles, explosive charges, mines, a great many maps, means of communication, documents, computers, drives, all these things which the IDF uses now on as intelligence, and not only that,” the defense minister continued.
“These demonstrate that we penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas and use their intelligence against them,” Gallant described the process of attaining the documents and weapons, hinting at some of the locations from where it was found.
“We are using their weapons against them, detonating them in the field, all this leads to the consequence of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities,” the defense minister said.
“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Gallant concluded.
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UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance
i24 News – Israeli diplomatic leaders called for the resignation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, following denial of knowing about a Hamas data center under the agency’s headquarters in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealed on Saturday night that Hamas built a vast network of tunnels under the UNRWA headquarters, with a base directly underneath that was even hooked up to its grid.
“The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action,” the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, posted on X.
“Philippe Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative,” Katz concluded.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, also called for the UNRWA Commissioner-General to resign, responding “it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know.”
“We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand,” Erdan added in a detailed post on X.
.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did… https://t.co/bJsD66OwoO
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024
“Take responsibility and resign today!” the Israeli ambassador said, “Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted.”
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