TEL AVIV (Agencies): Under the cover of airstrikes, Israel freed two Israeli-Argentinian hostages in Rafah on Monday. However, local health officials reported that these same airstrikes killed 67 Palestinians and wounded dozens in the southern Gaza city. Rafah serves as the last refuge for approximately a million displaced civilians.

The joint operation involved the Israeli military, the domestic Shin Bet security service, and the Special Police Unit in Rafah. The hostages, Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Hare (70), were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7. They were among the 250 people seized during the militant raid that triggered Israel’s war on Gaza.

Israeli military spokesman Lt Col. Richard Hecht emphasized the extensive planning behind the operation. The hostages were held on the second floor of a building that was breached with explosives during the raid. Heavy gunfire exchanges occurred with surrounding buildings. A photograph released to the media showed them in the hospital, sitting on a sofa alongside relatives.

The Argentinian government expressed gratitude to Israel for rescuing the two men, who held dual nationality.

Israel’s military stated that its air strikes were coordinated with the raid to facilitate the extraction of its forces.

The Gaza health ministry confirmed that 67 people were killed overnight, and the number could rise as rescue operations continued. A photograph from the scene depicted a vast area of rubble where buildings, including a mosque, had been destroyed. Palestinians in Rafah reported that two mosques and several houses were hit during more than an hour of strikes by Israeli warplanes, tanks, and ships, causing widespread panic among sleeping residents.

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