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Middle East conflict: Reports of heavy fighting during hostage rescue operation

Middle East conflict: Reports of heavy fighting during hostage rescue operation

More and more details are emerging about the operation to free four Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip. Israeli special forces carried out the rescue operation in broad daylight, it is said.

Following the liberation of four Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip, more and more details of the dramatic operation are emerging. Israeli special forces entered the refugee district of Nuseirat in the center of the coastal strip in broad daylight on Saturday. According to media reports on Sunday, three male hostages aged between 22 and 41 were being held in a house, and a 26-year-old woman was being held in another house around 200 meters away. In order to surprise the hostage guards, the troops entered both buildings at the same time at 11 a.m. local time.

Authority: Number of deaths in Nuseirat rises to 274

According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, at least 274 people were killed. The authority also announced on Sunday that almost 700 people were injured in the advance into the refugee district of Nuseirat.

This means that a total of more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed and around 84,500 injured in the Gaza Strip since the war began eight months ago, it said.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said the special forces were under fire throughout the long-planned operation. Armed Palestinians also used rocket-propelled grenades against the troops. An Israeli officer was killed in the operation.

A rescue vehicle carrying the hostages came under heavy fire and got stuck, Israeli media reported on Sunday. According to military spokesman Hagari, troops attacked “sources of danger” in Nuseirat from the ground, sea and air. The aim was to enable the rescue team to withdraw from the combat zone. Hagari rejected allegations that the troops had entered Nuseirat disguised in humanitarian aid vehicles or via the US pier.

The four hostages were eventually flown to Israel by helicopter. The army released a video showing 26-year-old Noa Argamani being taken into a helicopter on the beach in the Gaza Strip.

US military: Gaza pier not used during liberation

The US military has denied rumors on social media that Israeli special forces used the makeshift pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip during the liberation. “The humanitarian pier, including its equipment, personnel and resources, was not used in the operation to rescue the hostages in Gaza,” the US regional command (Centcom), which is responsible for the Middle East, said on Saturday evening. A video had previously circulated online in which an Israeli military helicopter could apparently be seen taking off from the beach near the pier.

According to the US, an area south of the facility was used by the Israelis to bring the hostages back to Israel. “All claims to the contrary are false,” the statement said. The pier was built solely for the purpose of “bringing urgently needed life-saving aid to Gaza.” The Israeli military also rejected allegations that the troops entered the area disguised in humanitarian aid vehicles or via the US pier.

Source: Stern

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