Israel carried out a military operation in Rafah on Sunday evening, claiming the lives of around 100 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Hebrew state claims to have rescued two hostages.

Israel announced on Monday the rescue of two hostages in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where the Gaza Health Ministry said that “around 100” Palestinians, including children, were killed in heavy overnight airstrikes.

The Israeli military announced early on Monday morning that two hostages had been rescued in a joint military, Shin Bet and police operation in Rafah after nearly 130 days in captivity.

In a statement, the army identified the two as Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har, saying that they “were kidnapped by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7 from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak.” Both were in “good medical condition,” it added.

“The military and the Shin Bet have been working on this operation for a long time… and they waited until the conditions were right to carry it out,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a briefing.

A firefight broke out as the hostages were being taken out of the building they were held in, he added, with airstrikes targeting nearby buildings where shots were fired.

“Many terrorists were killed this evening during this operation and one of our fighters was slightly injured,” he said.

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a statement that “only continued military pressure, until complete victory, will result in the release of all our hostages.”

Israel is preparing for a ground incursion into the teeming city along the border with Egypt, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians sought refuge from the fighting taking place in the north.

The precarious humanitarian situation in Rafah prompted aid groups and foreign governments, including Israel’s key ally the United States, to express deep concern over the potentially disastrous consequences of expanding operations there.

But a Hamas leader told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that an Israeli push into Rafah “would torpedo the exchange negotiations.”

The group’s military wing said on Sunday that two hostages had been killed and eight others seriously wounded in Israeli bombardment in recent days, a claim AFP was unable to independently verify.

Overnight Strikes

Despite mounting calls for him to strike a deal with Hamas to secure the remaining captives’ release, Netanyahu insisted that only military pressure can bring them home.

AFP journalists and witnesses heard an intense series of strikes and saw smoke billowing above the city, which now hosts more than half of Gaza’s total population after they fled bombardment elsewhere in the Strip.

The strikes hit 14 houses and three mosques in different parts of Rafah, according to the government in Gaza.

The Israeli military said that it had “conducted a series of strikes on terror targets in the area of Shaboura in the southern Gaza Strip,” adding that the strikes had concluded.

With AFP