Israeli security forces said early Monday that they had rescued two hostages who were being held in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, in one of the few examples of a successful hostage rescue in Gaza since the start of the war.
The hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were undergoing tests at a hospital in Tel Aviv and were both in good condition, according to a joint statement from the Israeli military, the police and the domestic security agency, Shin Bet.
The statement was issued around the same time that Israel said it had conducted a “wave” of attacks on Rafah, a crowded city at the border with Egypt where more than a million Palestinian refugees are anxiously expecting an Israeli ground invasion.
Mr. Marman and Mr. Har were among more than 240 people captured during the surprise Oct. 7 raid on southern Israel by Hamas and other militant groups, which later prompted Israel to retaliate with massive airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza. The statement said the two men had been captured from Nir Yitzhak, near the Gaza border. No other details were immediately available.
Israel has been discussing plans to send troops into Rafah, even as aid groups, the United Nations and the United States have warned that the people sheltering there have nowhere to go. Egypt has so far refused to take in Palestinian refugees.
About 100 of the hostages taken in October were released during a weeklong cease-fire last year. Last week, The New York Times reported that Israeli intelligence officers had concluded that at least 30 of the remaining 136 hostages had died since the start of the war. Before Monday’s operation, Israeli forces had said they rescued at least one hostage.
Hostages’ families have been pressing Israel to prioritize negotiations for their release. Last week, he publicly rejected Hamas’s latest proposal of another pause in fighting that would allow for some of the hostages being held by the militants to be released.
But Israeli officials have also signaled that their government was still open to negotiation, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview televised on Sunday that his government was working on a plan to evacuate people from Rafah.
Asked during the interview with ABC News how many of the remaining hostages were still alive, Mr. Netanyahu said, “Enough to warrant the kind of efforts that we’re doing.”
“We are going to try do our best to get all those who are alive back and, frankly, the bodies of the dead,” he added.