Israel released four captives amid heavy strikes on Gaza: military

Israel released four captives amid heavy strikes on Gaza: military

Shafaq News/ The Israeli military on Saturday said it has rescued four captives from central Gaza as it escalated its assault across the besieged and bombarded territory.

The announcement on Saturday came as Palestinian health officials said at least 55 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded in Israeli attacks in central Gaza.

The army said the four captives – Noa Argamani, 25; Almog Meir Jan, 21; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv; 40 – had been taken from a music festival during the attack Palestinian group Hamas led in southern Israel on October 7.

They were in “good medical condition” and were taken to hospital for medical checks following a “complex daytime operation” in Gaza’s Nuseirat. They were rescued in two separate locations in the heart of Nuseirat, it said.

Saturday’s operation was the largest recovery of alive captives since October 7, bringing the total of rescued captives to seven.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said during a news conference that special forces trained for “weeks” and underwent “intensive training” to carry out the operation, during which a member of the Israeli armed forces was critically wounded.

Israeli forces were “under fire inside the buildings and on the way out from Gaza”, according to Hagari, who said Israel “will not stop fighting” to get back all remaining captives. Last week, the Israeli military had said that 120 captives remained in Gaza, including 41 that the army believed were dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has spoken with one of the rescued captives, telling him officials never forgot about them during 246 days of war.

None of the Israeli officials mentioned the dozens of Palestinians who were killed as part of the operation, said Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Jordan’s Amman because the Israeli government has banned Al Jazeera from reporting from Israel.

“The Israelis are simply not talking about the cost of this operation and they will not talk about it because they want to spin this as a success. Netanyahu was under tremendous amount of pressure, and the Hostages Families’ Forum is very clear that the ceasefire is the best and most sensible option to get all the captives that are still in Gaza back.”

The Ministry of Health in Gaza released images of bloodied patients, including children, lying in the corridors of al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah after the Israeli military claimed targeting “terrorist” infrastructure in what appeared to be part of the rescue operation.

In a statement, Gaza’s Government Media Office said the Israeli army had launched “an unprecedented brutal attack” on the Nuseirat refugee camp, “leaving dozens of martyrs and wounded in the streets” and continuing “its aggression against all areas of the Central Governorate [Deir el-Balah]”.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters news agency after the Israeli army’s announcement that “regaining four captives after nine months of fighting is a sign of failure not an achievement”.

Israeli attacks on Gaza since the start of the war have killed at least 36,801 people and wounded 83,680, with thousands more missing under the rubble and presumed dead. Israel launched its assault after the Hamas-led attack during which about 1,140 people were killed and some 240 taken captive.

Hamas released almost half the captives in return for the release by Israel of dozens of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, in a deal brokered by Qatar and the United States that allowed for a brief truce in November.

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