Jerusalem, Feb 12 (EFE).- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his strategy of maintaining military pressure on Gaza as the only way to free the hostages after the Israeli forces managed to rescue two captives on Monday.
“I salute our brave fighters for the daring action that led to their release. Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring the release of all our hostages,” Netanyahu said on social media platform X.
In an overnight operation in Rafah, Israeli forces rescued two hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, both kidnapped from the Nir Yitzhak kibbutz on Oct. 7.
“The condition of the two is good and they were taken for medical tests at the Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center,” said a joint statement by the Israeli Defense Forces, the police and the Shin Bet intelligence unit.
There are still 130 captives held by Hamas, of which around 30 are believed to be dead.
A forum for the families of hostages and missing persons, formed after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel where over 1,200 were killed and over 250 taken captive, celebrated the rescue but also warned that the remaining hostages still held by Hamas were running out of time.
Israel must employ all viable options to release the captives, relatives of the hostages on the forum said.
The families of the hostages have been urging the Israeli authorities to reach any agreement with Hamas that involves the release of their loved ones. But Netanyahu has repeatedly said military pressure on Gaza is the only option to free the hostages.
The rescue operation in Rafah, southernmost Gaza which borders Egypt, was the second successful rescue operation by Israel since the war began over four months ago. In October, an Israeli soldier was freed in a rescue operation.
In total, 112 captives have been released, a majority of them during the week-long truce between Israel and Hamas in November.
Israeli defense spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the operation in the heart of Rafah, where over 1.4 million Palestinians are huddled up in refugee camps, was carried out with “intense firepower from the air (…) many terrorists were eliminated.”
In response to the attack, Hamas said the “horrific massacres against unarmed civilians, including displaced children, women, and the elderly (…) is a continuation of the genocide and forced displacement attempts waged against our Palestinian people.”
Israel’s military offensive, in retaliation to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, has killed over 28,100 Palestinians, injured over 67,900 and displaced over 80 percent of the population. EFE