Israel hostage rescue: How the operation unfolded


Reunions after four Israeli hostages freed in IDF raid

Four hostages have been rescued by the Israeli military from central Gaza, in an operation that was weeks in the planning.

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

Dubbed “Seeds of Summer”, the raid was unusually carried out in the daytime – which the Israel Defense Forces says allowed it a better element of surprise.

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

It also meant greater risk to Israel’s special forces, not only getting in, but especially getting out.

One special forces officer was wounded and died in hospital, Israel police said.

A weeping Nora Abu Khamees

Nora Abu Khamees was heartbroken after her child was killed in an Israeli strike

“It was on a scale like Entebbe,” according to the IDF’s Chief Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari referencing Israel’s rescue of 100 hostages in Uganda in 1976.

Acting on intelligence, and after crossing into Gaza from Israel, he said specialist 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.

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

He said Israeli commandos, having forced their way in, seized the hostages wrapping themselves around them to provide protective shields before bundling them into military vehicles outside.

As they left he said they faced fierce resistance from Palestinian fighters.

Mr Hagari said Israel’s military had planned the raid in great detail, even building mock-ups of the two apartments to train in.

The US also provided intelligence support to Israel for the operation, according to the BBC’s partner CBS News which cited two US officials.

Mobile phone video from the scene shows people diving for cover as missiles whistled in and gunfire rang out.

Later footage showed bodies strewn in the street.

Grief in Gaza as scores killed in IDF hostage raid

The raid clearly involved massive force. Doctors at the two hospital in central Gaza said they had counted more than 70 bodies.

Mr Hagari estimated less than a hundred, while the Hamas media office said more than 200 had been killed.

The BBC has been unable to verify the number of casualties.

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

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

Ten-year-old Areej Al Zahdneh, speaking at a nearby hospital, told us there were airstrikes, tanks and shooting.

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

Areej Al  Zahdneh lying on a bed in hospital

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

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