Israel cheers rescue of 4 hostages as Hamas says raid killed 274

On the photo: Participants at a hostages release rally in Tel Aviv, Israel, 08 June 2024. Israeli Special Forces successfully rescued Noa Argamani, Andrey Kozlov, Almog Meir Jan, and Shlomi Ziv from Hamas captivity during a rescue operation in Nuseirat, Gaza Strip, the IDF announced on 08 June 2024. The hostages have been transferred to the Tel HaShomer Hospital, the IDF said. EPA

On Sunday, Israelis celebrated the rescue of four hostages from the war-torn Gaza Strip, while Palestinians assessed the toll. Hamas officials reported that 274 individuals were slain and hundreds were injured during the daytime operation, reported AFP.

On Saturday, in the congested Nuseirat refugee camp area in central Gaza, special forces engaged in intense gun conflicts with Palestinian militants. They swooped in to liberate the detainees from two buildings and subsequently flew them out by helicopter.

The Israeli military reported that the extraction team and detainees were subjected to intense gun and grenade fire, resulting in the death of one police officer. Additionally, the Israeli Air Force conducted strikes that reduced adjacent structures to debris.

The health ministry of the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas, reported that 274 individuals were killed in the "Nuseirat massacre." This figure is an update to the previous toll of 210, which was provided by the government media office. The government media office stated that the fatalities included numerous women and children, but these figures were unable to be independently verified.

According to the health ministry, 698 individuals sustained injuries.

One Gaza woman, Hadeel Radwan, 32, described how she and her seven-month-old daughter fled the intensive combat while she carried her, stating, "My child was crying, afraid of the sound of the plane firing at us."

"We all believed that we would not survive," she stated in an interview with AFP, condemning "this brutal occupation that will not allow us to live."

The four captives, Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, were all reported to be in excellent health, and the news of their release caused many Israelis to shed floods of delight.

During the October 7 attack by Hamas, the four were abducted from the Nova music festival. Video footage captured assailants removing Argamani on a motorbike as she pleaded, "Don't kill me!"

The government press office published footage of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the liberated captives in the hospital, while the army released footage of them embracing their family members.

On their front pages, Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel Hayom, two of Israel's most prominent dailies, depicted Argamani being embraced by her father under the straightforward headline "Home."

The financial newspaper Calcalist praised a "heroic operation" that had provided Israelis with "a few hours of grace," while the left-leaning Haaretz daily referred to the rescue operation as a "morale boost" for the nation.

Hamas's Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades claimed that additional hostages were slain during the rescue operation, but they did not provide any details or evidence. They also warned that the conditions for the remaining captives would deteriorate.

"The operation will have a detrimental effect on the conditions of the enemy's prisoners and will pose a significant threat to their safety," stated spokesman Abu Obaida on the Telegram channel.

The operation's unspecified accusations of "war crimes" were rebuffed by Israel's chief diplomat.

"We will continue to act with determination and strength, in accordance with our right to self-defence, until all of the hostages are freed and Hamas is defeated," Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz stated.

According to physicians at Al-Ahli Hospital, the most recent conflict resulted in the deaths of four members of a single family in Gaza City's Al-Daraj neighbourhood as a result of an air strike that struck their residence.

Witnesses informed AFP that Israeli helicopters were also firing east of the Bureij camp.

According to officials in Rafah, the central and northern regions of the southern city were subjected to intense artillery bombardment from Israeli army vehicles.

Israeli forces have successfully rescued only seven hostages alive since Palestinian militants seized 251 hostages in their October 7 attack, including the four previously released hostages.

A November truce resulted in the exchange of dozens of Palestinian detainees. Despite the army's assertion that 41 of the 116 detainees are deceased, they remain in Gaza following Saturday's rescue operation.

Despite their calls for an armistice, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were among the leaders who welcomed their release.

The captive release was welcomed by EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell, who also expressed his disgust at the allegations of "another massacre of civilians." He emphasised that the slaughter must be promptly put to an end.

Biden initiated a new initiative on May 31 to negotiate a ceasefire and hostage release agreement with the assistance of US, Qatari, and Egyptian mediators. However, no tangible outcomes have been achieved thus far.

Hamas has demanded a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israel from all areas of Gaza, demands that Israel has categorically rejected.

Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, will embark on his eighth regional tour since the October 7 attack by visiting the Middle East on Monday. His itinerary includes stops in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Qatar.

On Saturday, Blinken maintained that Hamas is the sole obstacle to the establishment of this ceasefire. It is time for them to embrace the agreement.

The October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the fatalities of 1,194 people, primarily civilians, triggered the deadliest Gaza conflict in history, according to an AFP calculation based on Israeli official figures.

According to the health ministry of Gaza, Israel's retaliatory military offensive has resulted in the deaths of at least 37,084 individuals, the majority of whom are civilians.

On Saturday, UN chief Antonio Guterres declared, "This horror must cease." He also disclosed that the war had claimed the lives of 135 employees of the UN agency for Palestinians, the highest number of casualties in any conflict in the history of the organisation.

A siege has pushed many to the verge of destitution, while the conflict has brought pervasive devastation to Gaza and displaced the majority of its 2.4 million inhabitants.

Aid has been delivered intermittently via airdrop, vehicle, and sea shipment.

The US military announced that a temporary pier that had been damaged by a typhoon late last month had been rebuilt and was utilised on Saturday to transport approximately 492 tonnes of "critical humanitarian assistance."

In the midst of the death and suffering, Israel has been subjected to escalating diplomatic isolation, as international court cases have accused it of war crimes.

On Saturday, thousands of individuals marched through London once more, this time in support of a ceasefire. Meanwhile, protesters outside the White House once more condemned Washington's endorsement of Israel. |BGNES