IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari on Monday morning revealed the details of the dramatic hostage rescue operation earlier Monday morning that successfully extricated Fernando Simon Marman, 61, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, from Hamas captivity.
The operation was carried out by the Shin Bet, the IDF, and Israel Police’s Yamam counterterrorism officers.
“We brought Luis and Fernando home,” Hagari said. “It was a complex rescue operation under fire in the heart of Rafah, based on sensitive and highly reliable intelligence information. It was an operation for which we prepared for a long time and waited for the conditions that would allow us to carry it out.”
“Early in the morning, at 1:49 a.m., the special forces broke into a building in the heart of Rafah. There, on the second floor, Luis and Fernando were being held by armed Hamas terrorists. From the moment the building was breached, the Yamam commandos protected Luis and Fernando with their bodies while an intense gun battle began. Air support allowed the soldiers to target the Hamas terrorists.”
“At this stage, the soldiers took the hostages out of the apartment and rescued them under fire until they reached the safe zone. There, they underwent an initial medical examination by the forces in the field and they were flown in a helicopter to Sheba Hospital, where they had an emotional reunion with their families.”
“It was a very tense and very emotional night,” Hagari added, his voice breaking.
The operation began at 1:00 a.m. after weeks of extensive preparation, training, and simulations. Unit 5515 covertly brought the Shin Bet operatives and IDF soldiers into Rafah. Simultaneously, the Air Force attacked dozens of nearby targets.
The soldiers reached the building from the roof, detonated an explosive device to breach the door on the second floor, eliminated the Hamas guards, and secured the two hostages. At this point, terrorists opened fire from within the building and from nearby buildings, and a prolonged gun battle took place, during which dozens of Hamas targets were attacked from the air to allow the forces to leave the building. During the operation, an IDF soldier who fell from a height was slightly injured.
The evacuation to a safe area outside the neighborhood included the involvement of the 7th Armored Brigade and massive Air Force support. A Black Hawk helicopter evacuated Fernando and Luis to Sheba Hospital where their relatives were eagerly awaiting them.
The rescue operation was conducted from a command room under the direction of IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, Police Chief Yaakov Shabtai, and Air Force Commander Tomer Bar. In the course of the operation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also joined the command room.
The director of Sheba, Prof. Arnon Afek, said on Monday morning that the hostages are in stable condition.
The video below was posted by Gazans on Monday morning and claims to show the building where the hostages were held and the operation was carried out:
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)