Israel rescues four hostages captured by Hamas in an operation in central Gaza

It is the largest number of hostages found alive since the war started, taking the total of rescued captives to seven

Rescued hostage Noa Argamani speaks on the phone with Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Reuters
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Israel has rescued four hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, the army said on Saturday.

Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov 27, and Shlomi Ziv, who is 40, were rescued at two locations in Nuseirat, the Israeli military said.

It is the largest number of hostages found alive since the war started, taking the total of rescued captives to seven. It is the third military operation that has rescued Gaza hostages.

A Hamas official told Reuters that the freeing of the four hostages after nine months is a “sign of failure not an achievement”.

Israeli authorities said a “complex joint daytime operation” was carried out by the army, the Israeli Security Authority and police to rescue the four, who were kidnapped by Hamas-led militants from the Nova Music Festival at Re'im near the border with the Gaza Strip.

The military said the hostages were “in good medical condition and have been transferred to the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre for further examination”.

“The security forces will continue to make every effort to bring the hostages home.”

On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel does not give in to terrorism and is operating “creatively and bravely” to bring home all the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

“We are committed to do so in the future as well. We will not let up until we complete the mission and return home all the hostages – both those alive and dead,” Mr Netanyahu said.

An officer was seriously injured in the raid and later died in hospital, Israeli police announced.

Israeli air strikes in Nuseirat killed 210 Palestinians, most of them women and children, Gaza's Health Ministry said.

Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas' Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades, said some Israeli hostages were killed in the rescue operation.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz cancelled an address planned for Saturday evening, in which he had been expected to leave the government.

Following the rescue he said his “heart is full”.

A forum that represents most of the hostage families praised the “heroic operation”.

“Now, with the enormous joy all over Israel, the Israeli government must remember its commitment to bring back all 120 hostages still held by Hamas – the living for rehabilitation, the murdered for burial,” it said in a statement on X.

Hamas kidnapped about 240 hostages during its attack on southern Israel on October 7. About half were released in a week-long ceasefire in November.

Israel said more than 130 hostages remain, with about a quarter of those believed dead, and divisions are deepening in the country over the best way to bring them home.

Updated: June 09, 2024, 6:21 AM