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Netanyahu Welcomes 2 Hostages Home, Rescued in Daring Raid in Rafah

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel security forces rescued two Hamas-held hostages, Fernando Marman (61) and Louis Har (70), both dual citizens of Israel and Argentina, in a daring nighttime raid Monday in Rafah near the Egyptian border.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the work of the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense forces, and in the face of world criticism, said only "military pressure" would free the rest of the captives.

The raid raised hopes in Israel that even more hostages could be freed.

In a statement, the prime minister said, "Fernando and Louis – welcome home. I salute our brave soldiers for their bold action which brought about their release. Only continued military pressure, until a complete victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages."

Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Daniel Hagari described the early morning operation.

"This is a complex rescue operation under fire in the heart of Rafah, based on very sensitive and high-quality intelligence of the Intelligence Division and the General Security Service," Hagari explained. "This is an operation that we have been preparing for for some time; the necessary preparations (had) been made and we were waiting for the conditions that will allow it to be put into operation."

Within hours, the IDF reunited the two hostages with family members.

Idan Begerano, the son-in-law of hostage Louis Har, stated, "They are surrounded by family now and the family that they haven’t (had) for 128 days since the 7th of October massacre. Luckily for us as a family, they were saved tonight, but I must say that the job is not done. We are happy today but we didn’t win. It’s just another step towards bringing all the other 134 hostages back home.”

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The rescue inside Rafah highlights the high-stakes confrontation over the city. 

Israel wants to pursue thousands of Hamas terrorists inside the city. However, the Biden White House said in a statement, “A military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.”

Netanyahu told ABC News Israel has a plan.

“We are working out a detailed plan to do so.  And that’s what we’ve done up to now.  We’re not cavalier about this," Netanyahu insisted.

He added, "This is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm’s way. It’s part of Hamas’ effort to keep them in harm’s way. But we have so far succeeded and we’re going to succeed again. Those who say under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying, lose the war. Keep Hamas there. Hamas has promised to do the October 7th massacre over and over and over again.”

On Saturday, the IDF revealed that Hamas built a tunnel complex directly under the United Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters in the Gaza Strip.

The tunnel served as a key part of the Hamas military infrastructure. Israel found evidence that UNRWA supplied the Hamas tunnel with electricity and the IDF discovered large quantities of weapons inside the UNRWA building, including rifles, ammunition, grenades, and explosives.

The military also found documents showing Hamas terrorists used UNRWA offices.

After the discovery, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan posted on X, "UN = Hamas, and vice versa."

Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the military is making progress and has entered the most sensitive Hamas locations. They are now using the terror group's own intelligence against them.

Gallant said the more Israeli forces advance, the closer Israel gets to a deal to free the hostages.

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