Israel frees four hostages; operation kills more than ninety Palestinians

After a “heroic operation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of a “bloody massacre.” The hostages were released on Saturday morning around eleven a.m. local time. The woman and three men were rescued simultaneously from two locations in Nuseirat in a joint operation between the army, the Yamam anti-terror unit, the Shin Bet internal security service and the police. A Yamam commander was killed during the operation, Israeli police announced.

The four released, Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (22), Andrey Kozlov (27) and Shlomi Ziv (41), were kidnapped at the Nova music festival, where hundreds of attendees were killed by Hamas. A total of around 250 hostages were taken at the festival and in Israeli villages around the Gaza border, with Hamas killing around 1,200.

About the Author
Jonathan Witteman is economics editor of by Volkskrant and writes about macroeconomics and the banking sector.

Argamani became one of the best-known faces among the hostages after she pleaded for her life and that of her boyfriend, who was also kidnapped, in a Hamas video, sandwiched between two motorcyclists. The latter is reportedly still held captive by Hamas. Argamani has now been reunited with her father and her terminally ill mother, who has made several desperate appeals in the media in recent months to be able to see her daughter once again.

“As you smile at the sight of a father finally hugging his daughter in Tel Aviv, shed a tear for the father burying his daughter in Gaza,” Majed Bamya, Palestine’s deputy representative to the United Nations, said of Israel on Saturday. rescue operation. Palestinian witnesses told CNN of a “crazy bombing.”

‘Hell on earth’

‘There are broken children scattered in the streets. They have annihilated Nuseirat, it is hell on earth,” Nidal Abdo told CNN. “The dogs ate people’s remains,” said Abu Abdallah, another witness. On Saturday, Hamas reported 210 dead and 400 wounded, while local doctors estimated more than 90 dead. Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari on Saturday accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

The release of the four hostages was only the third successful Israeli rescue operation to date, and also the most successful. At the end of October, the Israeli army managed to rescue soldier Ori Megidish from the Gaza Strip, followed in February by Fernando Marman and Louis Har.

About half of the 250 hostages were freed in November, as part of a short-lived agreement that included a ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners. Another 130 hostages remain in Gaza, a quarter of whom are believed to have already died. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed Saturday not to give up “until the mission is completed and all our hostages are home, both the living and the dead.”

Windfall for Netanyahu

The successful rescue operation is a windfall for Netanyahu, who is under intense pressure to accept a ceasefire. Since the start of the war, almost 37,000 Palestinians have died, while, according to UNICEF, around a thousand children in Gaza have lost one or more legs.

Last month, the International Criminal Court requested an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders. Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, one of Netanyahu’s main opponents, gave Netanyahu an ultimatum on May 19. He demanded that the prime minister draw up a plan for the administration of Gaza after the war within three weeks. In fact, Gantz was expected to make an announcement on Saturday afternoon: He was expected to announce his departure from the coalition government with Netanyahu. Following the news about the four hostages, he postponed his announcement.

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