“Israel's major military operation in Rafah cannot proceed without a credible plan to protect over a million civilians.” Joe Biden said this after his meeting at the White House with King Abdallah of Jordan.
Hamas announced on Telegram the death of three of the eight Israeli hostages it announced yesterday that they had been injured in the “barbaric Zionist attacks on the Gaza Strip”. The Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, added that they would later release the names and photos of the dead, “and the fate of the other wounded will be clear”.
An agreement between Israel and Hamas on hostages remains “possible” and would have “enormous” advantages: the US State Department says. The United States continues to reiterate that it does not support “a general ceasefire in Gaza.” The spokesperson for the US National Security Council said this in a press briefing. “We want the war to end, but what we need now is a humanitarian truce,” the White House official stressed. “Heartbreaking”: this is how US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described the death in Gaza of Hind Rajab, the six-year-old Palestinian girl who lost her life after surviving an attack on her family's car and he had called to ask for help. Miller urged Israel to investigate the episode.
The prospect of a “real” offensive by the Israeli army in Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are refugees, is “terrifying”. This was stated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk . “Considering the carnage that has taken place so far in Gaza, we can perfectly imagine what will happen in Rafah,” Türk said in a statement.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan today expressed deep concern over a possible Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, warning that anyone who violates international law will be held accountable. “I am deeply concerned about the reported shelling and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in Rafah,” Khan said.
The Israeli army released two Israeli hostages who had been kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October last night in Rafah , in the south of the Gaza Strip: the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced it on Telegram. “During a joint operation by the IDF (the Israeli Defense Forces, ed.), the ISA (the Israeli Shin Bet security service, ed.) and the Israeli police in Rafah, two Israeli hostages were rescued during the night , Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70), abducted by the terrorist organization Hamas on 7 October from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak,” it said in a statement. “Both are in good medical condition and have been transferred for medical checks to the Sheba Tel Hashomer hospital – the note continues -. The security forces will continue to operate with all means to bring the hostages home”.
The Israeli operation last night in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, caused “around 100 deaths”: this was announced by the Hamas Ministry of Health. Overnight, the Hamas Ministry of Health had spoken of a series of Israeli air strikes during the night in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt, which had hit 14 houses and three mosques in different areas of Rafah.
According to Hamas, it was a “horrible massacre against defenseless civilians and displaced children, women and elderly people”. CNN reports it. Hamas, confirming the 100 deaths, says the raid “is considered a continuation of the genocidal war and forced displacement attempts that Israel is waging against our Palestinian people.” In its statement, Hamas said US President Joe Biden and his administration must take “full responsibility” for the civilian deaths.
The operation to free the two Israeli hostages began around 2:00 last night, when “Israeli forces raided a building in the heart of Rafah where the two were held by Hamas”. Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said this, according to which the action “had been prepared for some time”. “From the moment they opened fire – he added – the soldiers protected the two hostages with their bodies during the battle with the terrorists which broke out with heavy exchanges of fire in many places and with many terrorists”.
The two hostages, explained the military spokesperson, “were held on the second floor by armed terrorists who were present in the building and also in adjacent buildings”. The liberation – added Hagari – was accompanied by air raids to “allow the disengagement of the soldiers and to strike the Hamas terrorists in the area”.
Merman and Har were held “inside a family's house” in central Rafah. They said it themselves, quoted by Ynet, before reuniting with their family members, who were also kidnapped by Hamas last October 7 and then released. The two are considered to be in relatively good physical condition and the first photo that appears on social media shows them next to Gabriela Leimberg and Clara Marman. The second is Fernando's sister and Louis Har's partner, both of whom were released in the exchange with Hamas last November.
“This rescue mission highlights the importance of our ground operation in Gaza.” Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said this referring to the release of the two hostages. “We have a moral obligation – he added – to bring all our hostages back home. An obligation to fulfill which we will continue to do everything in our power”.
“One of the most successful rescue operations in the history of Israel.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this while meeting the soldiers who freed the two hostages in Rafah. “You eliminated the kidnappers, the terrorists and – added Netanyahu – you returned to Israel without being hit: perfect operation with perfect execution. At 1.40 in the morning I heard you say 'the hostages are in our hands'”. The prime minister, who witnessed the phases of the action from the command center, revealed that he had approved it a few days ago.
“Only constant military pressure, until total victory, will lead to the release of all our hostages.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this when speaking about the release of two hostages by the army in Rafah. “We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home,” he concluded. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant were present last night in the Command Center in Israel that oversaw the release of the two hostages in Rafah. Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said this.
The office of Argentine President Javier Milei , on X, “thanked the Israeli army and other security forces for freeing the two hostages Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har”, kidnapped by Hamas on October 7. The same source recalled that Milei in his recent visit to Israel had reiterated the request for the release of each of the Argentine hostages and “his firm condemnation of Hamas terrorism”.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army announced the death of two more soldiers in combat in southern Gaza. The two soldiers were not killed in the rescue operation of the two Israeli hostages in Rafah. They are Adi Eldor (21 years old) and Alon Kleinman (21 years old). The toll of soldiers killed in combat – since the beginning of the operation in the Strip – is now 229.
Israel bans entry to an Italian UN official: 'Outrageous claims about the October 7 massacres'
Israel has decided to deny entry into the country to Francesca Albanese , envoy of the UN Human Rights Council. The decision, the Foreign and Interior Ministries said, is linked “to his outrageous claims that 'the victims of the October 7 massacre were not killed for their Jewishness but in response to Israeli oppression'”.
“The time of Jewish silence has passed. For the UN to regain credibility, Antonio Guterres must unequivocally denounce the anti-Semitic statements of their 'special envoy' Francesca Albanese and immediately remove her from her position. Preventing her from entering Israel will serve as a stark reminder of the atrocities committed by Hamas, including the ruthless attack on innocents.” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz wrote this on Twitter.
Replying two days ago to a post from Le Monde, Albanese wrote: “The 'largest anti-Semitic massacre of our century'? No, Mr. Emmanuel Macron. The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel's oppression. France and the international community did nothing to prevent it. My respects to the victims.”
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