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How did Israel rescue hostages from deep inside the Gaza Strip? Here are details about ‘Operation Golden Hand’

‘I’m so proud of you. You worked like a well-oiled machine,’ Netanyahu told the soldiers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israel National Counter Terrorism Unit and meets with the fighters and unit commander, who rescued hostages Fernando Marman and Louis Har from Rafah in Gaza. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“The hostages are in our hands.”

At about 2 a.m. on Monday morning, Israeli commando soldiers reached Israeli hostages Fernando Marman and Louis Har deep inside the town of Rafah, rescuing them from the hands of the murderous Hamas terrorists after 129 days of captivity in Gaza.

“Operation Golden Hand” was a full success, with IDF troops managing to extract two hostages without the loss of life on the Israeli side and uplifting the whole nation in the process.

“This is a day of joy mixed with sadness: Joy over the release of our hostages and sadness over our fallen soldiers. However, I would like to tell you that the freeing of Louis and Fernando was one of the most successful rescue operations in the history of the State of Israel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

“I would like to tell you: I am so proud of you. I am proud of you, the Shin Bet and the IDF. You worked like a well-oiled machine. You are simply the best fighters there are. I came here to tell you this and to salute you on behalf of all citizens of Israel. You are the best in the world. Well done!” the prime minister told the soldiers who carried out the raid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Israel National Counter Terrorism Unit and meets with the fighters and unit commander, who rescued hostages Fernando Marman and Louis Har from Rafah in Gaza. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Commandos of Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security agency and the Israel Police had trained for Operation Golden Hand for about a month, waiting for the right opportunity to strike, according to Israeli media reports.

Netanyahu gave the green light a few days ago. At about 1 a.m. on Monday morning, the raid received the final go-ahead. The prime minister, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and other senior officials followed the progress of the raid in the Shin Bet’s Operations Room.

“The room was very tense,” said IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari. “Everyone was up and working hard that night. There was close cooperation by people from all organizations and the commanders of the operational units, who did a very high-quality job.”

The operation began with dozens of airstrikes against Hamas’ Shabura Battalion in Rafah to obscure the target of the mission.

Israeli commandos of the police’s Yamam counter-terrorism unit and a special unit of the Shin Bet approached the two-story building where the hostages were held, which was surrounded by three other buildings manned by armed terrorists.

Intelligence had indicated the hostages were being held on the second floor of the building. Within one minute, the commandos breached the door with an explosive charge, eliminated three armed terrorists and reached the hostages.

The initial explosion alerted armed terrorists in the surrounding buildings, who then opened fire on the Israeli forces. Shielding the hostages with their bodies, the soldiers began a retreat to their nearby vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) began a massive wave of airstrikes in the area to cover their retreat, killing numerous terrorists.

On the way out, one of the soldiers noticed that Luis Har was barefoot. Without hesitating, he picked Har up and carried him to the meeting point before giving him his shoes and continuing the operation barefooted.

From the meeting point, IDF troops of the Navy Commando Shayetet 13 and the 7th Brigade transported the freed hostages to an extraction point in special armored vehicles. After a 10-minute drive, they reached the helicopters that flew Marman and Har to freedom.

Netanyahu praised the soldiers for their heroic operation.

“At 01:40 this morning, I saw you placing the charge and seconds later I heard, ‘We have the hostages.’ You eliminated the abductors, the terrorists, and made your way back without injury – a successful operation, a perfect operation,” the prime minister said.

The entire raid only took about one hour from start to finish, with no Israeli soldiers or hostages harmed, apart from one soldier who was lightly injured.

Defense Minister Gallant said that the successful operation showed Hamas’ vulnerability.

“The public knows that they have someone to trust. Our existence here depends on deterrence. The symbol of this war cannot be the images from Nir Oz – the symbol must be the destruction of [Hamas] in Gaza and Khan Yunis – the elimination of terrorists above and under the ground. Thank you – you are on the frontline, and you represent our spirit,” he told Yamam soldiers on Monday.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and commander of the Border Police (Photo: Ariel Hermoni)

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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