Israeli Raid Frees 4 Hostages in the Gaza Strip; Over 200 Palestinians Killed in Operation, Hamas Says
Posters depicting the portraits of the four rescued Israeli hostages from left: Andrey Kozlov, Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, and Almog Meir Jan, are plastered on a wall in Tel Aviv on June 8, 2024. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Raid Frees 4 Hostages in the Gaza Strip; Over 200 Palestinians Killed in Operation, Hamas Says

Israeli forces operating in the densely populated al-Nuseirat area faced heavy resistance during the mission, one of the bloodiest since the conflict began eight months ago

In a dramatic rescue operation on Saturday, Israeli forces freed four hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The mission, one of the deadliest since the conflict began eight months ago, resulted in around 210 Palestinian deaths, according to officials in Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry. The Israeli military estimates the number was closer to 90, including both Hamas fighters and noncombatants. One Israeli border police officer, a member of the National Counter-Terrorism Unit, was killed in the operation. The raid targeted central Gaza’s densely populated al-Nuseirat area.

The operation, dubbed “Seeds of Summer,” was intense, with heavy firefights breaking out in the heart of Nuseirat’s residential neighborhoods. Israeli forces employed both air and ground attacks to secure the hostages, leading to significant civilian casualties, according to local paramedics.

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that Israeli forces came under heavy fire during the operation and had to respond with force from the air and the ground. Hamas’ armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, said that some hostages were killed during the rescue attempt.

The Israeli military identified the rescued hostages, all of whom were taken from the Nova music festival during a Hamas-led raid on October 7, as Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv. The border police officer was named as Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, 36.

Israeli hostages rescued in Operation Seeds of Summer reunite with their families at Sheba Hospital (Courtesy IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Argamani, 26, a Ben-Gurion University student, was reunited with her parents. Her mother, Liora, is battling brain cancer at Sourasky Medical Center. A video of Argamani shouting “Don’t kill me! No, no, no!” while being abducted and driven to Gaza on the back of a motorcycle went viral and became one of the most haunting images of the October 7 attacks. Her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, remains in captivity.

Jan, 22, from Or Yehuda, called his mother, Orit, amid the chaos of October 7, expressing his love. His captors forced him to record a birthday video in May, which was never released. According to his sister, “The first thing we’ll do when he returns is be with family and watch a movie together. Almog is very family-oriented.”

Kozlov, 27, moved to Israel on his own from Russia and worked as a security guard at the Nova festival. His mother immigrated to Israel after his abduction.

Ziv, 41, is from Moshav Elkosh in the Galilee. He has been married for 17 years to Miran, who says she and her husband were trying to have children. He studied interior design and worked with his cousin, Aviv Eliyahu, the Nova festival’s security director, who was killed on October 7.

While the return of the hostages brought relief and emotional reunions, the high civilian death toll in Gaza has fueled criticism. The conflict has seen significant casualties. The Hamas-run Government Media Office reports 36,800 Palestinians killed since the war began, of whom around 25,000 are “fully identified” according to the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip. Around 1,600 Israelis and foreign nationals have been killed since October 7, according to the Israeli military.


Additional footage from the meeting of the released Israeli hostages with their families at Sheba Hospital (Courtesy IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the Israeli operation on Saturday “appalling” in a post on the X platform (formerly Twitter). Borrell condemned the operation as “another massacre of civilians” and urged Israel to “end this bloodbath immediately,” advocating for the cease-fire and hostage release plan already backed by Israel and the United States. In an earlier message on X, he congratulated the hostages on their release, expressing relief and calling for the release of all remaining hostages.

Internal Israeli political ramifications also followed the rescue, as Benny Gantz, Israel’s centrist war cabinet minister, postponed a statement in which he was expected to announce his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency government. Gantz had previously set Saturday as a deadline for Netanyahu to present a clear strategy for freeing as many hostages as possible, defeating Hamas, rebuilding damaged and destroyed communities and allowing displaced Israelis to return to their homes in the south and north, and planning for the governance of Gaza after the war, reflecting ongoing dissatisfaction with the current government’s handling of the conflict.

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