How Israeli commandos blew their way into an apartment in Rafah to rescue hostages
After entering the building, elite counter-terrorism soldiers descended to the second floor, where they installed explosives on the apartment door.
The explosion immediately killed three Hamas terrorists who were standing in the corridor on the other side.
These men were guarding Fernando Marman, 60, and Louis Haar, 70, who were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, just across the road. Gaza, 129 days ago.
A daring raid marks one of the few occasions Israeli ground forces entered the city of Rafahthe southern city adjacent to the Egyptian border, since the war on Hamas began. Benjamin NetanyahuThe Israeli Prime Minister is preparing to launch a large-scale attack on the city where a million Gazans are seeking refuge after fleeing bombs in the rest of the Strip.
the Raid on Rafah This was made possible thanks to advanced Israeli intelligence. When the commandos began their raid on the residential complex, they were also aware of the presence of a large number of Hamas fighters stationed in two other adjacent buildings.
The entire rescue operation was monitored in real time from the operations headquarters in Beersheba in the Negev Desert. They were joined by Mr. Netanyahu, the Israeli president and the defense minister in what was described as a “very tense and emotional night,” according to the Israeli military.
At a meeting with some of the soldiers who led the rescue operation on Monday, Netanyahu said: “At 1.40 a.m. I saw you advancing and a few seconds later I heard: We have got the hostages.” He praised them for the “perfect process.”
It was also an operation that saw more Palestinians killed in devastating diversionary bombings that allowed the hostages to escape to the safety of a hospital in Israel.
The Israeli army said that its special forces protected the two hostages during an intense exchange of fire in several locations.
Additional ground forces from the Navy’s 13th Shayetat Commando Unit and the 7th Armored Brigade provided cover while Hamas fighters targeted the operation from surrounding buildings, wounding one soldier.
The commander of the operation ordered the commandos and hostages to return to the building and they did not emerge until around 1.50am, when Israel called in air strikes as a diversion to help the soldiers and hostages escape.
Authorities in Gaza said the devastating bombings destroyed 14 buildings and killed at least 67 Palestinians.
The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza said on Monday that most of the casualties were the result of Israeli army air strikes and exchanges of gunfire while extracting the hostages.
Footage from the scene showed dozens of buildings reduced to rubble and homes left without windows.
A witness on the ground said that the Israeli army stormed a building to rescue the hostages and later launched an air strike to destroy it. Many of the victims of the airstrike appear to be civilians.
As dawn broke on Monday, dozens of survivors and families were seen gathering among the destroyed homes.
“I can’t tell you how we survived last night,” Abu Abdullah Al-Qadi said. “They killed my cousin. They killed a lot of people in the raids.”
Abu Suhaib (28 years old) said that he heard warplanes dropping bombs and helicopters flying overhead.
“It was hell,” Suhaib, who was sleeping dozens of meters away from one of the airstrikes, told AFP. “We heard the sound of the explosion, as if hell was falling on civilians.”
Airstrikes helped commandos rush the two men to waiting armored vehicles, which took them to the border, just a few kilometers away.
A military helicopter with Israeli soldiers was waiting outside the fence to airlift the hostages to the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, where the families were already prepared to welcome their relatives back.
Israel had intelligence information about the whereabouts of the two men and had been preparing for the operation for some time, according to the Israeli army. They were waiting for the right conditions on the ground and had to cancel the rescue mission last week.
The joint operation, carried out by the Al-Yamam counter-terrorism unit and the IDF’s Shin Bet security service, is the first successful hostage rescue operation since the rescue of an Israeli soldier from Gaza in the first days of the ground offensive in late October.
The families had no idea that an operation was being conducted to save their loved ones when they received a call in the middle of the night asking them to go to the hospital to meet them.
Mr Har’s brother-in-law said his wife was shocked when she received a call telling her she had to come to Sheba Medical Center to meet her father.
“She was unable to speak,” Aidan Bejerano told Kan public radio. She was in shock. “We were nervous for an hour, an hour and a half, until we met.”
The two released hostages appeared “thin and pale,” but appeared to be communicating well and aware of their surroundings, according to Mr. Bejerano.
When he saw his brother-in-law, Har is said to have said to him: “You have a birthday today, Mazal Tov!”
The Israeli army said, in a message containing details of the operation, that the excitement during the rescue operation should not outweigh the anxiety of the families of the victims. The remaining 134 hostages He is still in Hamas captivity.
“If you are listening to me, know that we are determined to bring you home,” Hajari said.
“We will not give up any chance to bring you home.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli opposition leader said on Monday that Israel now has a “narrow” window of opportunity to negotiate a hostage deal with Hamas. Yair Lapid cited his recent conversations with Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, and Emmanuel Macron, French President, who told him that now was the time frame in which an agreement could be reached.
But Mr. Netanyahu, encouraged by the success of the rescue operation, pledged on Monday afternoon to continue the war when he told the visiting Dutch prime minister that Israel “will not leave the terror brigades alone in Rafah.” Mark Rutte warned about this before his trip to Israel Ground operation in Rafah It would have “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” and called for a ceasefire.
Rutte’s visit coincided with a Dutch court ruling to suspend exports of spare parts for F-35 fighter jets to Israel amid fears that parts of the plane would be used in violation of international law in Gaza. The Dutch government pledged to appeal the decision.
(tags for translation)Rafah