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Details of hostage rescue revealed as Hamas says over 270 killed

In World
June 09, 2024

The Hamas-controlled Gaza health authority increased its casualty estimates from Israel’s hostage rescue operation in central Gaza on Saturday as new details emerged about how Israel freed four of its citizens from captivity.

Over the past 24 hours, at least 283 people had been killed and 814 injured during Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry estimates on Sunday. The vast majority of those casualties – 274 killed and 698 injured – were caused by Israeli’s operation in Nuseirat which freed the hostages, the ministry said.

The information could not be independently verified.

The Palestinian side spoke of a “massacre” of civilians in Nuseirat, with horrific images of bloodied injured and dead, including children, circulating on social media. At the time of the operation, many people were reportedly travelling to a nearby market.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the special forces were under fire throughout the entire operation, which was a long time in the planning. Armed Palestinians had also used bazookas against the troops. One Israeli officer was killed during the operation, it was reported.

Israeli special forces entered the refugee neighbourhood of Nuseirat in the late morning.

Israeli media reported, citing updated ages of the hostages, that three male hostages aged between 22 and 41 were held in a house there and a 26-year-old woman was held in another house around 200 metres away. To surprise the hostages’ guards, troops entered the buildings simultaneously at 11 am (0800 GMT).

A rescue vehicle carrying the hostages came under heavy fire and got stuck, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Hagari said the troops then attacked the “sources of danger” in Nuseirat from the ground, sea and air. The aim was to enable the rescue team to leave the combat zone.

Hagari rejected accusations that the troops had entered Nuseirat disguised in humanitarian aid vehicles or via the US-constructed temporary pier.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) also rejected these reports circulating on social media.

“The humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel, and assets were not used in the operation to rescue hostages today in Gaza,” CENTCOM said in a statement released Saturday evening.

“Any such claim to the contrary is false,” the statement read.

Earlier on Sunday, Turkey called Israel’s operation to free its hostages a “barbaric attack” and accused Israel of war crimes.

Meanwhile in Israel, families whose loved ones have been either killed by Hamas or who remain in captivity in Gaza criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for meeting with freed hostages but not with families of other victims.

A leading opposition politician joined in the criticism.

“When you are prime minister, you are the prime minister of successes and defeats,” opposition leader Yair Lapid told Israel’s Kan channel on Sunday. “To be prime minister only when everything works out and to disappear when everything doesn’t go the way you want, that’s pathetic.”

Netanyahu met with the four hostages freed from the Gaza Strip in a hospital on Saturday – during the Sabbath or Jewish day of rest – and had his picture taken.

According to media reports, however, families of Israelis killed during the Hamas massacre on October 7 and relatives of hostages who were killed were angered that neither Netanyahu nor other government representatives had made contact with them.

“A prime minister with moral values would have called to comfort and strengthen (us). And to apologize for what happened on his watch,” the father of a soldier killed on October 7 wrote on X.

Israeli hostage Almog Meir Jan (C), 22, speaks with family members at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, after his rescue by the Israeli army from captivity in the Gaza Strip. -/IDF Spokesperson's unit via GPO/dpa

Israeli hostage Almog Meir Jan (C), 22, speaks with family members at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, after his rescue by the Israeli army from captivity in the Gaza Strip. -/IDF Spokesperson’s unit via GPO/dpa

Israeli hostage Andrey Kozlov, 27, speaks to medical staff at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, after her rescue by the Israeli army from captivity in the Gaza Strip. -/IDF Spokesperson's unit via GPO/dpa

Israeli hostage Andrey Kozlov, 27, speaks to medical staff at the Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Centre, after her rescue by the Israeli army from captivity in the Gaza Strip. -/IDF Spokesperson’s unit via GPO/dpa

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