Israeli military rescues two hostages in Gaza Strip

Palestinians walk by a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Palestinians walk by a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) -- The Israeli military said it rescued two hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip early today, marking a small but symbolically significant success in its quest to bring home more than 100 captives believed to be held by the Hamas militant group.

The two men were rescued from a residential building in the southern border town of Rafah in a raid that also killed at least seven people, according to Palestinian officials. Witnesses reported at least 17 airstrikes, flares and Apache helicopter fire.

The army identified the two rescued hostages as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, and said both were in good medical condition. It said both men were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the Oct. 7 cross-border attack that started the Israel-Hamas war, now in its fifth month. They are just the second and third hostages to be rescued safely.

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said the operation was based on "precise intelligence," and the site, located on the second floor of a building, had been watched for "some time." He said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Israel's military chief and other top officials as the raid unfolded.

photo Israeli soldiers drive a tank on the border with the Gaza Strip, as seen in southern Israel, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. The army is battling Palestinian militants across Gaza in the war ignited by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack into Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
photo Palestinians walk through the destruction left by the Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Gaza City, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Hajjar)