How the Israeli hostage rescue in Gaza unfolded


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Four hostages have been rescued from central Gaza by the Israeli army in an operation that had been planned for weeks.

For the Israelis it brought celebration and relief. It brought even more suffering for Palestinians, with hospitals saying dozens of people – including children – were killed in the attack on the densely populated Nuseirat camp.

The raid, dubbed ‘Seeds of Summer’, was unusually carried out during the day – which the Israeli military said allowed for a greater element of surprise.

The mid-morning time meant the streets were busy with people shopping at a nearby market.

It also meant a greater risk for Israeli special forces, not just getting in, but especially getting out.

One special forces officer was injured and died in hospital, Israeli police said.

A crying Nora Abu KhameesA crying Nora Abu Khamees

Nora Abu Khamees left heartbroken after her child was killed in an Israeli attack (BBC)

“It was on a scale like Entebbe,” said IDF chief spokesman Vice Admiral Daniel Hagari referring to the Israeli rescue of 100 hostages in Uganda in 1976.

Based on intelligence, he said after entering Gaza from Israel, specialized commandos simultaneously raided two residential apartments in Nuseirat where the hostages were being held.

In one apartment was 26-year-old hostage Noa Argamani. In the other were 41-year-old Shlomi Ziv, 27-year-old Andrey Kozlov and Almog Meir Jan, 22.

Hagari said they were not in cages, but in locked rooms surrounded by guards.

He said that after entering, Israeli commandos seized the hostages and wrapped themselves around them as protective shields before bundling them into military vehicles outside.

When they left, he said they faced fierce resistance from Palestinian fighters.

Hagari said the Israeli army had planned the raid in meticulous detail, even building models of the two apartments for training.

Cellphone footage showed people taking cover as rockets whistled in and gunshots rang out.

Later images showed bodies strewn in the street.

There was clearly enormous force in the attack. Doctors at the two hospitals in central Gaza said they had counted more than 70 bodies.

Hagari estimated fewer than 100, while the Hamas media office said more than 200 had been killed.

The BBC has not been able to verify the number of victims.

“I have collected the body parts of my child, my dear child,” Nora Abu Khamees, who was sheltering in Nuseirat, told the BBC as she cowered in tears.

“My other child is between life and death. Even my husband and my mother-in-law, our whole family is devastated. This is a genocide.”

Ten-year-old Areej Al Zahdneh told us during a speech at a nearby hospital that there were air raids, tanks and shootings.

“We couldn’t breathe. My sister Reemaz was hit by shrapnel in the head and my five-year-old sister Yara was also hit by my shrapnel.”

Areej Al Zahdneh lies on a bed in the hospitalAreej Al Zahdneh lies on a bed in the hospital

Two sisters of 10-year-old Areej Al Zahdneh were hit by shrapnel, she told the BBC from hospital (BBC)

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