The Israeli military has rescued two hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip early on Monday (February 12) morning. Argentinian-Israelis Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Norberto Har, 70, were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak close to Gaza in the October 7 cross-border attacks that triggered the war.
They were freed during a special operations raid under the cover of massive Israeli strikes on Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Palestinian enclave where 1.4 million Gaza residents have fled to escape fighting elsewhere. Israeli planes, tanks and ships took part in the rescue operation, with two mosques and several houses struck.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that the hostages had been held on the second floor of a building in the heart of Rafah. Its soldiers entered the building stealthily then set off an explosive charge which saw heavy exchanges of gunfire with surrounding buildings which were full of armed Palestinian fighters. The IDF also thwarted an attempt by Hamas to hit the rescuers leaving the scene. “It was a very complex operation. We’ve been working a long time on this operation. We were waiting for the right conditions,” said IDF spokesman Lt Col. Richard Hecht.
The freed hostages were airlifted to the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv where they are reported to be in good medical condition. They are just the second and third hostages to be rescued safely. A female soldier was rescued in November.
The Argentinian dual citizens were rescued just days after a state visit to Israel by Argentina’s recently elected President Javier Milei who pledged to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Photo: Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) – Freed hostage Fernando Marman