Monday, 04 March, 2024

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How Israeli commandos blasted their way into Rafah apartment to rescue hostages


At 1.49am on Monday, Israeli commandos climbed to the roof of a two-storey building in the middle of the southern city of Rafah.

Acting on intelligence that two hostages were being held inside, the elite counter-terrorism soldiers blasted their way into an apartment on the second floor, setting off explosives attached to the front door to force their way in.

Three Hamas terrorists standing in the corridor were killed instantly. Those men were guarding Fernando Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were kidnapped from their kibbutz of Nir Yitzhak just across from Gaza 129 days earlier.

The daring raid marks one of the few occasions Israeli ground forces have entered Rafah since their war on Hamas began. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, is preparing to launch a full-scale assault on the city where one million Gazans are sheltering.

The raid on Rafah was made possible by advanced Israeli intelligence. Commandos were alerted not only about the situation inside the apartment complex but also that a high number of Hamas fighters were stationed in two adjacent buildings.

During the operation, troops from the Yamam counter-terrorism unit ushered the hostages to safety.

“From the moment of the breach and entry of the apartment, Yamam forces shielded Louis and Fernando with their bodies, initiating a daring battle and heavy exchange of fire at several locations simultaneously, with many terrorists,” Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, an IDF spokesman, said on Monday.

Additional ground troops from the Navy’s Shayetet 13 commando unit and 7th Armoured Brigade provided cover for the commandos and the hostages as Hamas fighters opened fire from the surrounding buildings, injuring one soldier.

At around 1.50am, Israel called in airstrikes as a diversion to help the soldiers and the hostages escape.

The devastating bombings destroyed 14 buildings and killed at least 67 Palestinians, authorities in Gaza said.

Footage from the scene showed a dozen buildings reduced to a rubble of concrete and houses left without windows.

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The apartment building where the hostages were held before being rescued by Israeli commandos

The apartment building where the hostages were held before being rescued by Israeli commandos – SAID KHATIB/AFP

Rights groups condemned the airstrikes on Rafah, the most densely populated area in Gaza.

Doctors without Borders on Monday said “Israel’s declared ground offensive on Rafah would be catastrophic and must not proceed”.

The airstrikes helped the commandos evacuate the two men in an armoured vehicle, which transported them to the border just a few kilometres away.

A military helicopter with Israeli soldiers was waiting outside the fence to airlift the hostages to the Sheba medical centre near Tel Aviv, where the families were already waiting.

Israel had intelligence about the two men’s whereabouts and had been preparing the operation for some time, according to the Israeli military. They were waiting for the right conditions on the ground and had to abort a rescue mission last week.

Israel’s top brass assembled on Monday night at an operational headquarters in Be’er Sheva on the northern edge of the Negev desert to monitor the rescue in real time. Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli president, and the defence minister joined them at what was a “very tense and emotional night”, according to the IDF.

The joint operation by the Yamam counter-terrorism unit, the Shin Bet security agency at the IDF is the first successful hostage rescue since a female Israeli soldier was saved from Gaza in the early days of the ground offensive in late October.

The families had no idea an operation to save their loved ones was afoot when they got a call in the middle of the night asking them to travel to the hospital to meet them.

Louis Har’s son-in-law said his wife was shocked when she got the call informing her she should come to the Sheba medical centre to meet her father.

“She couldn’t speak,” Idan Bejerano told public broadcaster Kan.

“She was in shock. We were tense for an hour, an hour and a half – until we met.”

The two released hostages looked “thin and pale” but seemed to be communicating well and aware of their surroundings, according to Mr Bejerano.

Louis Har was reunited with his family

Louis Har was reunited with his family after 128 days in captivity

Fernando Marman and Louis Har at the Sheba medical centre with their families

Fernando Marman and Louis Har, far right, at the Sheba medical centre with their families

When he saw his son-in-law, Mr Har reportedly told him: “You have a birthday today, mazal tov!”

The IDF, in a message detailing the operation, said the excitement at the rescue should not outweigh the anxiety of the families of the remaining 134 hostages still in Hamas captivity.

“If you are listening to me, know that we are determined to bring you back home,” Mr Hagari said.

“We will not give up any opportunity to bring you back home.”

Credit: Yahoo News

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One comment on “How Israeli commandos blasted their way into Rafah apartment to rescue hostages

Congratulations and thank GOD for the successful operation. May GOD make it possible for the remaining hostages to be released soon in JESUS Name Amen.

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