Israeli hostage rescue operation killed 50 Palestinians in Gaza: Report

At least 50 Palestinians killed in airstrikes that accompanied Israeli hostage rescue operation, hospital officials say, reports AP.

Israeli hostage rescue operation killed 50 Palestinians in Gaza: Report

ISRAEL'S hostage rescue mission, that included fatal airstrikes in Gaza, has killed at least 50 Palestinians in the densely populated Strip, Gaza hospital officials told AP. Notably, Israel managed to rescue only two of the claimed 136 Hamas hostages in this airstrike.

The Israeli raid took place in Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the Israel-Hamas war.

Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said the hostages had been held in a second-floor apartment in Rafah, under guard from Hamas gunmen, both in the apartment and nearby buildings.

Hagari said special forces broke into the apartment under fire at 1:49 a.m. Monday, accompanied a minute later by a series of airstrikes on surrounding areas. The Israeli army spokesperson said members of the rescue team shielded the hostages with their bodies as a heavy battle erupted in several places at once with many Hamas gunmen.

The hostages were taken to a nearby “safe area" and given a quick medical check before being flown to a hospital in central Israel.

Israel has described Rafah as the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza after more than four months of war and signaled that its ground offensive may soon target the densely populated city. On Sunday, the White House said President Joe Biden had warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should not conduct a military operation against Hamas in Rafah without a “credible and executable" plan to protect civilians.

The army identified the rescued hostages as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who it said were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the 7  October cross-border attack that triggered the war.

Both were airlifted to Sheba Hospital and were 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.

An Israeli air and ground offensive in Gaza has killed over 28,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, displaced over 80% of the population and led to a massive humanitarian crisis.

Over 100 hostages were freed during a weeklong cease-fire in November. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity, while Hamas is holding the remains of roughly 30 others who were either killed on 7 October or died in captivity. 

Three Israeli hostages were killed by the Israeli army after escaping their captors in December.

The remaining hostages are believed to be spread out and hidden in tunnels, likely in poor conditions. The rescue is a morale booster for Israelis, but it's a small step toward winning the release of all of them.

Israel has cited the return of all hostages as one of the main goals of the war. Benjamin Netanyahu, in his monstrous stride in killing thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, has vowed to press ahead with Israel's military offensive until a “total victory" that also includes destroying Hamas' military and governing capabilities.