IDF spokesman: Troops used their bodies to shield hostages from gunfire during rescue operation

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Rescued hostages Norberto Louis Har (L) and Fernando Simon Marman. (Courtesy)
Rescued hostages Norberto Louis Har (L) and Fernando Simon Marman. (Courtesy)

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, in a morning press conference after the rescue of two Israeli hostages from Hamas captivity in southern Gaza’s Rafah, says troops carried out a “professional and accurate operation” and physically protected Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Norberto Louis Har, 70, from the terrorists’ gunfire.

“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 says.

“This is an operation that we prepared for and were waiting for the conditions that would make it possible to carry it out,” he says.

Hagari says that as officers of police’s elite Yamam unit breached the apartment in Rafah where the pair were being held by Hamas terrorists, at 1:49 a.m., they “hugged and protected Luis and Fernando with their bodies.”

He says fighting occurred at a number of locations, with airstrikes being carried out against Hamas terrorists in the area at 1:50 a.m.

“The troops pulled Louis and Fernando out of the apartment and rescued them under fire, until they reached the safe zone,” Hagari says.

“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,” he continues.

Hagari says that “even this morning, we don’t forget for a moment that 134 hostages are still being held in Gaza.”

“If you can hear me now, we are very determined to bring you home and we will not miss any opportunity to bring you home,” he adds in a message to the remaining hostages.

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