Israel-Hamas war: what we know about the two Israeli hostages released in Rafah, on the border with Egypt

Hostages since October 7, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were released this Monday, February 12, Israeli authorities said.
Hostages since October 7, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were released this Monday, February 12, Israeli authorities said.

Hostages since October 7, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were released this Monday, February 12, Israeli authorities said.

GAZA – While the detention of Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip is one of the key issues in the war between the Israeli army and Hamas, two of them were released during the night from Sunday to Monday, after .

• How did the operation take place?

The two hostages were released after a series of strikes by the Israeli army which “around 100 dead” in Rafah, on the border with, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

Israeli forces broke into with explosives » in a building in Rafah where these hostages were held, the army said. “Three terrorists were killed in the building where they were detained”according to an initial assessment by the Israeli army.

“A shooting took place and there was shooting from nearby buildings. The Air Force carried out strikes. Many terrorists were killed as well as one of our soldiers”said army spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

In total, the strikes hit 14 houses and three mosques in different areas of Rafah, according to the Hamas government.

• Who are the two hostages?

The two hostages are Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, Israeli authorities said. They were released “jointly by the Israeli army, Shin Beth (Internal Security) and police”according to a press release from these three services.

Of Israeli and Argentinian nationality, the two men were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7. After their release, they were airlifted to Sheba Hospital, located in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, where they “are in stable condition”, assured Arnon Afek, the director of the establishment. According to Israeli authorities, they were able to reunite with their families.

In a post on X, the office of Argentine President Javier Milei expressed “his gratitude” to the Israeli army for their release.

• How did their loved ones react?

“Around 3 a.m. we received a call from the Israeli authorities telling us: Fernando and Louis are in our care, come see them in the hospital. We were in shock. We didn’t expect that. But we jumped in the car and got here”said Idan Bejerano, Luis Har’s son-in-law.

“We were able to see them. From what we have been able to see, they are under medical supervision, bedridden. They seem “ok”, if I may say so. They undergo a battery of tests, surrounded by doctors and nurses. Most importantly, their family surrounds them”he added, speaking to journalists in front of the hospital.

“When we saw them, the heart was beating at 200 beats per minute, maybe more. There were a lot of tears, hugs, but few words (…) We are happy today but we did not win. It’s just one more step towards returning home.” hostages still held in Gaza, he stressed.

• Is this the start of an Israeli offensive on Rafah?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his army to prepare for , where most of the population of the Palestinian territory is currently massed, according to the UN, sparking concern from the international community.

Hamas warned on Sunday that such an offensive “would torpedo” any agreement for the release of the hostages he still holds in Gaza.

But Israel affirmed that the strikes on the night of Sunday to Monday were not part of the launch of this offensive, but of an operation to recover the two hostages who were able to be freed.

Rafah has become the last refuge for Palestinians stuck on the closed border with Egypt, numbering 1.4 million according to the UN, the vast majority displaced having fled the war which has been raging for four months.

• How many hostages remain in Gaza?

Around 250 people were kidnapped in Israel on October 7 and taken to Gaza. A week-long truce in November allowed the release of 105 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinians detained by Israel. Before the release of the last two hostages last night, Israel estimated that 132 were still being held in Gaza, of whom 29 were believed to have died.

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