Israel releases two hostages held in Rafah

Israel launched a special forces operation that freed two Israeli hostages in Rafah amid airstrikes early on February 12 that local health officials said killed 37 people and wounded dozens in the southern Gaza city.
In a joint operation by the IDF, Israel's Shin Bet internal security service and the Rafah special police unit, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70, were freed, the Israeli military said.
The two men, who were abducted by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7, are in good condition and have been taken to Tel Hashomer Medical Complex, the military said.
"It was a very complex operation," said Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht. "We worked for a long time on this operation. We were waiting for the right conditions".
The hostages were being held on the second floor of a building that was breached with an explosive device during the raid, which saw a heavy firefight with surrounding buildings, Hecht said.
At the same time, an airstrike was carried out so that the forces could be evacuated safely, he said.
The airstrikes caused widespread panic in Rafah, as many people were asleep when the strikes began, residents told the media.
According to residents, Israeli planes, tanks and ships were involved in the strikes, and two mosques and several houses were hit.
The Israeli military said it carried out a "series of strikes" in the southern part of Gaza, which have now "ended", without providing further details./BGNES