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IDF launches coordinated lightning operation in Rafah to evacuate hostages

According to IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari, Israeli forces coordinated a lightning and air campaign against Hamas positions in Rafah to secure the release of the two hostages.

“In a joint recovery operation of the IDF, security forces and the Special Police Forces, the Special Police Unit, we recovered Lewis Haar and Fernando Marmon, who were abducted by Hamas in Nir Yitzhak on October 7,” he said during Hagari. Said. Press conference on Monday. “There was air cover and a wave of attacks by the Israeli Air Force along the Southern Command.”

Hagari said the covert operation with evacuations under fire began at 1:49 a.m. local time, and the accompanying airstrikes began a minute later at 1:50 a.m. local time.

“At 01:49 in the morning, special forces entered the building located in the center of Rafah,” he said. “At 01:50 air cover initiated Air Force and Southern Command operations to allow forces to disengage and attack Hamas militants in the area.”

Hagari said that Israeli special forces “embraced and protected them with their bodies” while they were being attacked by the hostages, who were kept on the second floor of a building.

Within minutes, the two hostages were rescued amid gunfire from Hamas fighters and then taken to a “safe location” inside Rafah for medical care, Hagari said. He was then flown by helicopter from Gaza to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.

“They were deliberately placed inside a civilian building, in the middle of a civilian neighborhood, to prevent us from rescuing them. But we did,” he said in a statement released later in English. “This rescue mission underlines the importance of our ground operations in Gaza, including Rafah, when conditions permit.”

Hagari also claimed that the “complex” operation had been planned for a “long time”.

“It was a very tense and exciting night,” he said.

Following Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) also reported that more than 100 people were killed in overnight attacks. It is believed that more people are still trapped under the debris of the collapsed buildings.

From translator Michael Rosenblatt and CNN’s Mike Schwarz. Additional reporting by Abeer Salman.

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