Two hostages have been rescued by the Israeli army during a raid in Rafah, amid reports of heavy air strikes on the southern Gazan city.

Tweeting on Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the rescue of the hostages was an overnight mission.

“During a joint operation between the IDF, ISA, and Israel Police, two Israeli hostages from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak were rescued: Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70),” IDF tweeted.

“They are both in good medical condition and were transferred for further medical examination in Israel.

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Both men were kidnapped by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7, when the group launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, the military said.

Richard Hecht, IDF spokesperson, said “it was a very complex operation”.

Hecht added that the military had been working on the operation for a while, saying the troops “were waiting for the right conditions”

The IDF spokesperson said the hostages were being held on the second floor of a building that was breached with an explosive charge during the raid, which saw heavy exchange of gunfire from surrounding buildings.

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The attack follows warnings from the international community over Israel’s planned offensive in the city, where 1.5 million people are sheltering.

However, there are conflicting reports on the casualties: the Associated Press (AP) said at least 50 Palestinians — including children — were killed, citing Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, while Reuters pegged the death toll at 37, also quoting Gaza health officials.

Rafah, which lies on the border with Egypt, is the only humanitarian aid corridor into Gaza.

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