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How Israel’s mission to rescue four hostages took place

The Israeli army has overrun much of Gaza since its ground offensive began in late October. But it has rescued only seven living hostages in three separate military operations, involving about 120 people. captured remaining in Gaza. According to two Israeli defense officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, several proposed rescue missions did not proceed for fear that hostages or forces would die in the process.

In December, Israeli special forces attempted to rescue a hostage from Hamas captivity, according to two defense officials. Sahar Baruch, the Israeli hostage, killed in a firefight and two Israeli officers were seriously injured.

According to one of the defense officials, Israeli intelligence first learned that Ms. Argamani was being held in an above-ground building near the Nuseirat market. The official said additional information received later showed three other hostages were in another building in the same area.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said Israeli officers had been working for weeks to assemble the components needed for the mission. He added that Israeli soldiers receive intensive training based on models of the buildings where the hostages are believed to be held.

“This was a mission in the heart of a residential area, where Hamas had deliberately hidden among houses with civilians and armed rebels guarding hostages,” Admiral Hagari said. “And we must act so that those hostages return home alive.”

Two Israeli defense officials said that in the past three weeks, there were several instances in which the operation appeared possible, but all attempts were canceled before Israeli forces were prepared to launch the mission.

A third Israeli official said on condition of anonymity that on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met again with senior defense officials to discuss the risks of the operation and the scenarios. version can happen.

The official said the country’s leaders gave the green light to the rescue mission that night. But it’s still possible it could be canceled at the last minute, Admiral Hagari said.

Adm. Hagari said that on Saturday morning, Herzi Halevi, the army’s chief of staff, and Ronen Bar, the director of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency, both made the final decision just minutes before the operation began on Monday. around 11 am.

He added that they chose to move during the day, attacking two buildings in Nuseirat, in order to catch Hamas off guard because the armed group might expect such an operation to take place at night.

Admiral Hagari said the raid began simultaneously in both buildings, where hostages were in locked rooms surrounded by armed guards. At one building – where Ms. Argamani was being held – officers suddenly attacked her captors, he said. On the other hand, Israeli forces fought hard before reaching the remaining three hostages, he added.

Admiral Hagari said that as they rescued the captives, officers announced over the radio that “the diamonds are in our hands” using a designated code.

Admiral Hagari said they left the buildings while Hamas militants shot at them and fired rocket-propelled grenades. He added that officers shielded the hostages with their bodies to try to protect them, and that Israeli aircraft attacked in and around the area, targeting the militants.

Khalil Daqran, a local official at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah, told reporters that many Palestinians were killed and injured in strikes near the Nuseirat market, which he said There are many people passing by.

Admiral Hagari said that he had been informed that the military was aware of Palestinian casualties from the operation and that he could not confirm how many were militants. He added that Hamas sought to fire on Israeli forces from behind civilians.

He added that “the cynical way in which Hamas is using civilians to shoot at our forces” is “tragic.”

Admiral Hagari said the hostages were taken by car to two waiting helicopters. One carried Ms. Argamani and special forces officers. The second carried the three remaining hostages and an injured police commander, who later died from his injuries.

At around 1:30 p.m., the Israeli government announced that the four hostages had returned home.


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