Security forces announced Monday evening that a soldier abducted by Hamas earlier this month had been rescued from the Gaza Strip in an overnight operation, the first captive taken in the terror group’s shock assault on October 7 to be freed by Israeli troops.
In a joint statement, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security agency said Pvt. Ori Megidish was in good condition and had reunited with her family.
The IDF said she was rescued during a ground operation overnight, without giving further details.
Megidish was an observation soldier, taken hostage by Hamas when terrorists stormed the Nahal Oz base over three weeks ago.
The Shin Bet and IDF were not expected to reveal further information on how Megidish was rescued from Hamas captivity, to prevent harm to future operations.
Megidish was believed to have been held alone, though other members of her unit were captured by Hamas in the October 7 onslaught. In total, at least 243 civilians and soldiers were kidnapped that day, of whom four have been released by Hamas.
The operation was planned several days in advance and it is believed that during the overnight activity, Hamas showed resistance.
However, no members of Israeli security forces were reported hurt.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) October 30, 2023
Celebrations were held in Megidish’s hometown of Kiryat Gat following the news that she had been freed, with video footage from the southern city showing her family celebrating at home and supporters gathered outside the building.
“I would like to convey a message to the hostages and their families, we — the IDF and Shin Bet — are all obligated, we have a moral obligation to return all the hostages home,” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Monday evening.
He said that after being rescued, Megidish met with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar. He described it as a “very touching meeting.”
Hagari said Megidish managed to recall everything she saw in the Gaza Strip, providing information which he said may be used in future operations.
Megidish’s return was hailed by Israeli leaders, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying the operation “is proof” that Israel can rescue the hostages held by Hamas and other terror groups.
“This is further proof of our ability to reach the hostages, the importance of the ground operation, and above all our commitment to each and every one of the hostages,” Gallant said.
He cautioned that the ongoing ground operation was “not easy.”
“The enemy is resisting, but the IDF forces operate with precision and determination, with cooperation between ground and air forces, and quality intelligence,” Gallant continued.
“This machine is unstoppable, and I am convinced that they will be able to accomplish their tasks,” he said. “This will not be a short or easy war, but we are determined to win for those who paid with their lives.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the IDF and Shin Bet on the successful mission to free Megidish, hailing “this important and moving achievement, which shows our commitment to bringing all of the hostages home.”
The prime minister called the Hamas terrorists “monsters,” saying Israel will continue to pursue them.
“We will continue to make every effort, by every means, in order to bring home our girls and boys,” said Minister Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet overseeing the military campaign in Gaza.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen vowed: “We will continue to act to free all the captives.”
President Isaac Herzog said he was happy to see Megidish back with her family and praised the “daring” operation by the IDF and Shin Bet.
“We give strength to them, support them and trust them,” said Herzog in a statement.
החיילת אורי מגידיש מחבקת לראשונה את סבתא שלה
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— ???? זירה פוליטית‼ (@Zira_politit) October 30, 2023
Megidish was one of the at least 243 hostages dragged into the Strip by Hamas and allied terror factions during the shock assault on southern Israel three weeks ago, when some 2,500 terrorists stormed across the Gaza frontier in a multipronged attack and killed over 1,400 people, most of them civilians slaughtered in their homes and at an outdoor music festival.
The captives, also mainly civilians, include women, the elderly and children, some still in diapers. It is not clear how many of them are alive.
The announcement that Megidish was rescued came hours after Hamas released a video showing three of the women it took hostage. The three hostages, who appeared to be filmed under duress, were identified as Danielle Aloni, Rimon Buchshtab Kirsht, and Lena Trupanov.
Since the October 7 attack, Hamas has released four hostages — an American-Israeli mother and daughter and two elderly Israeli women — in moves brokered by Qatar, which hosts both a US military base and Hamas’s political bureau.
In response to the October 7 massacres, Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which rules Gaza, and to pursue every avenue to secure freedom for all of the hostages. Alongside intense strikes, the Israel Defense Forces has sent troops and tanks into the Gaza Strip, but has limited its ground offensive, apparently in order to avoid endangering efforts to free the hostages.