Back in our loving arms: Hostages freed in IDF raid are embraced by their families as it's revealed Israeli soldiers used their own bodies as humans shields to protect them during gun battle with Hamas

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The two men rescued by IDF soldiers who used their own bodies as human shields during a pitched battle with Hamas in Rafah, Gaza’s final remaining city, have today been pictured hugging their families for the first time in months. 

The Israeli military said it rescued two male hostages from captivity in the Gaza Strip – 128 days after they were kidnapped.

The two men were rescued from a residential building in the border town of Rafah during a raid that killed at least seven people. 

The army identified the two men, both Argentinian-Israelis, as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, and said both were in good medical condition. 

Both men were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the October 7 cross-border attack that started the Israel-Hamas war. They were today seen being embraced by their families, who they have not seen for four months. 

IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari gave details this morning of the raid that saved the hostages’ lives, which saw counter-terrorism police using their own bodies as human shields.

The flat the men were kept in was breached at 1:50am today

The flat the men were kept in was breached at 1:50am today

Officers from the police's Yamam unit, known for its counter-terrorism operations, breached a flat in Rafah where the two men were being held at 1:49am

Officers from the police’s Yamam unit, known for its counter-terrorism operations, breached a flat in Rafah where the two men were being held at 1:49am

The army identified the two men, both Argentinian-Israelis, as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70

The army identified the two men, both Argentinian-Israelis, as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70

Both men were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the October 7 cross-border attack

Both men were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the October 7 cross-border attack

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip

‘Overnight, we brought back Louis and Fernando. This was a complex rescue operation under fire based on sensitive intelligence. A professional and accurate operation,’ Hagari said. 

‘This is an operation that we prepared for and were waiting for the conditions that would make it possible to carry it out.’

Hagari said that officers from the police’s Yamam unit, known for its counter-terrorism operations, breached a flat in Rafah where the two men were being held at 1:49am. 

‘The troops pulled Louis and Fernando out of the apartment and rescued them under fire, until they reached the safe zone,’ Hagari said. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Israel’s military chief and other top officials as the raid unfolded.

The hostages were being held on the second floor of a building that was breached with an explosive charge during the raid, which saw heavy exchanges of gunfire.

Fernando Simon Marman
Louis Har

The army identified the two men as Fernando Simon Marman, left, and Louis Har, right, and said both were in good medical condition

In this photo provided by the Israeli military, shows an Israeli Air Force helicopter carrying the  two hostages

In this photo provided by the Israeli military, shows an Israeli Air Force helicopter carrying the  two hostages

Palestinians walk by a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024

Palestinians walk by a residential building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024

‘It was a very tense and very touching night. Such an operation was made possible thanks to the great sacrifice of the standing army and reserve troops who fell and were injured in the battles. Without their sacrifice, we would not have reached this moment,’ Hagari said.  

The raid that saved the Argentinian-Israeli hostages came as Argentina’s president, Javier Milei visted the nation. Milei was seen weeping as he visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem. 

At the same time, an air strike was carried out to allow the forces to be extracted, he said.

The air strikes caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were asleep when the strikes started, said residents contacted by Reuters.

Israeli planes, tanks and ships took part in the strikes, with two mosques and several houses hit, according to residents.

The Israeli military said on Monday it had conducted a ‘series of strikes’ on southern Gaza that have now ‘concluded,’ without providing further details.

Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military has ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.

President Biden told Netanyahu on Sunday that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there, the White House said.

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024

Joe Biden called on Israel to 'not proceed' with military action in southern Gaza without planning for the evacuation of Palestinian civilians

Joe Biden called on Israel to ‘not proceed’ with military action in southern Gaza without planning for the evacuation of Palestinian civilians

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing international warnings over his army's planned offensive in Rafah amid its war with Hamas

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing international warnings over his army’s planned offensive in Rafah amid its war with Hamas

Aid agencies say an assault on Rafah would be catastrophic. It is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes, days after the U.S. leader said Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip had been ‘over the top’.

Netanyahu’s office has said that it had ordered the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions it says are deployed there.

Hamas militants killed an estimated 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others in the Oct. 7 raid that triggered the war. 

An Israeli air and ground offensive has killed over 28,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials.

Over 100 hostages were freed during a cease-fire in November. Israel says about 100 hostages remain in Hamas captivity.

Netanyahu said in an interview on Sunday that ‘enough’ of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza were alive to justify Israel’s war in the region.

Hamas-run Aqsa Television on Sunday quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would ‘blow up’ the hostage-exchange negotiations.

Egypt warned on Sunday of ‘dire consequences’ of a potential Israeli military assault on Rafah, which lies near its border.

 ‘Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah,’ its foreign ministry added in a statement.