GAZA: Under the cover of airstrikes, Israel released two Israeli-Argentinean hostages in Rafah on Monday. According to local health officials, the strikes killed 67 Palestinians and injured numerous others in the southern Gaza city, which serves as the last shelter for about a million displaced residents.

A man kisses the body of his child killed in an Israeli strike at Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah. PHOTO: Reuters

Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70, were let free by a joint operation by the Israeli military, the domestic Shin Bet security service, and the Special Police Unit in Rafah, according to the IDF.

Along with about 250 other individuals that Israel claims were taken prisoner during the terrorist attack that precipitated its war on Gaza, the two men were abducted by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7, according to the IDF.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, stated, “We’ve been working on this operation for a long time.” “We were waiting for the right conditions.”

According to Hecht, there were intense gunfire exchanges between the raiding party and the surrounding buildings while the hostages were being held on the second floor of a structure that had been breached with explosives. They were pictured in a hospital with family members sitting on a sofa in a picture that was made public.

The two guys were reportedly dual citizens of Argentina, and the Argentinean government expressed gratitude to Israel for saving their lives.

According to Israel’s military, its airstrikes were timed to coincide with the operation, enabling the extraction of its men.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, there have been 67 confirmed deaths, and while rescue efforts continue, that figure may increase. A picture taken at the scene revealed a sizable area covered in debris where buildings had been demolished.

Palestinians in Rafah reported that Israeli warplanes, tanks, and ships struck two mosques and other residences in the course of more than an hour, sparking widespread terror among those who had been sleeping.

Ever since we arrived in Rafah last month, it was the worst night. “Death was very close as shells and missiles fell 200 meters from our makeshift camp,” the father of six from Gaza, Emad, a businessman, told Reuters via a messaging app.

There are over a million displaced persons in the city who are seeking shelter because to Israel’s war on Hamas, and there are fears that Israel has launched a long-awaited ground offensive there.

“Everyone said that the ground strike was unexpected. I offered our final prayers with my family,” Emad remarked.

Both of the released men were described as “a bit frail, a bit thin, a bit pale” but otherwise in decent shape by a relative of one of the hostages, who had seen them in the hospital.

Hare’s son-in-law, Idan Bejerano, claimed that the hostages had been dozing off when the commandos entered the premises “within a minute” and took shelter while the kidnappers engaged in combat.

The hospital’s director, Prof. Arnon Afek, stated that they were receiving care in Sheba, Israel.

According to Hamas, Israel’s intentions to forcefully relocate the Palestinian people and carry out a “genocidal war” against them are what led to the attack on Rafah.

More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas’ foray into Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory bordering the strip on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israeli settlers. The attack resulted in the kidnapping of at least 250 settlers.

15 killed in central Gaza by an airstrike

According to the White House, US President Joe Biden informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday that Israel shouldn’t launch a military action in Rafah until it has a solid strategy in place to guarantee the protection of the approximately one million civilians who are seeking shelter there.

According to aid organizations, an attack on Rafah would be disastrous. In an enclave destroyed by Israel’s military operation, it is the final area that is reasonably safe.

Egypt says it believes Gazans will be forced across and never come back, so it has fortified its border with the city.

Although individuals will be evacuated further north, according to an Israeli official, Israeli soldiers are still operating in central Gaza. In the central town of Deir Al-Balah, 15 individuals were reported dead by Palestinian doctors following an airstrike.

Emad, a Palestinian father, stated that action was required globally.

“The preparations by Israel to assault Rafah were denounced by the entire world. Before they invade, they start demolishing the city. How is the globe faring at this point? Just worried about that?” He stated.

Days after the US president declared that Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip had been “over the top” and voiced serious concerns about the increasing number of civilian deaths in Gaza, Biden and Netanyahu had a 45-minute conversation.

According to Netanyahu’s administration, the military has been given the task of creating a strategy to remove four Hamas battalions that it claims are stationed in Rafah and destroy them.

In an interview that aired on Sunday, Netanyahu stated that Israel’s war in the region was justified because “enough” of the 132 Israeli captives that were still being held in Gaza were still alive.

A top Hamas leader was quoted by the Hamas-run Aqsa Television on Sunday, stating that any Israeli ground operation in Rafah will “blow up” the hostage-exchange negotiations.

On Sunday, Egypt issued a warning about the “dire consequences” of an Israeli military attack on Rafah.

Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying, “Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah.”