Hamas says more than 200 killed as Israel rescues four Gaza hostages - GulfToday

Hamas says more than 200 killed as Israel rescues four Gaza hostages


Palestinians evacuate with their belongings following an operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp. AFP

Israel said it forces rescued on Saturday four hostages alive from a Gaza refugee camp where the Hamas-run government media office reported attacks left 210 Palestinians dead and hundreds wounded.

The Israeli military said the four were in "good medical condition." They had been kidnapped from the Nova music festival during Hamas's Oct.7 attack that sparked war with Israel, now in its ninth month.

Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, had been rescued from two separate buildings "in the heart of Nuseirat" camp in a "complex daytime operation," the military said.

The Hamas media office said "the number of victims from the Israeli occupation's massacre in the Nuseirat camp has risen to 210 martyrs and more than 400 wounded."

Hamas's Qatar-based leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed to keep fighting.

"Our people will not surrender, and the resistance will continue to defend our rights in the face of this criminal enemy," Haniyeh said in a statement.

The group earlier accused Israeli forces of engaging in "brutal and savage aggression on Nuseirat camp," with a Gaza hospital providing an initial death toll of 15 in heavy Israeli strikes in central areas of the territory, including Nuseirat.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the rescue operation, saying: "We won't stop working until all the hostages are home and a ceasefire is reached. That's essential to happen."

He was speaking in Paris alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, who also congratulated the families for the release of the hostages.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the rescue "an important sign of hope."

Near Nuseirat on Saturday, a media photographer saw scores of Palestinians fleeing the Bureij camp on foot, fearing further Israeli strikes.

The operation came days after the Israeli strike on the Nuseirat school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which a Gaza hospital said had killed 37 people.

UNRWA condemned Israel for striking a facility it said had been housing 6,000 displaced people.  

In Gaza City, five people were killed overnight when an Israeli warplane bombed the Mhana family home, emergency services said.

Seventy were killed in the past 24 hours, it said.

Israel faced growing diplomatic isolation, with international court cases accusing it of war crimes and several European countries recognising a Palestinian state.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro announced on Saturday his government would suspend coal exports to Israel "until the genocide stops."

Latest efforts to mediate the first ceasefire in the conflict since a week-long pause in November appear to have stalled a week after Biden offered a new roadmap.

World powers and Arab states have backed the proposal that Biden said includes an initial six-week pause and hostage-prisoner exchange as well as stepped-up delivery of aid into Gaza.

Hamas has yet to respond. Israel has expressed openness to discussions but remains committed to destroying the group.

Major sticking points include Hamas insisting on a permanent truce and full Israeli withdrawal -- demands Israel has rejected.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit Israel and key regional partners Egypt, Jordan and Qatar from Monday on his eighth Middle East trip since the war began.

Agence France-Presse

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