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

By AFP - Jun 09,2024 - Last updated at Jun 09,2024

Palestinians evacuate with their belongings following an operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday (AFP photo)

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories — Israel said its forces rescued on Saturday four hostages alive from a Gaza refugee camp where the 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 October 7 surprise 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.

They were among 251 captives seized by the fighters in their October attack on southern Israel. There are now 116 hostages remaining in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

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”.

The Islamist 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.

Israeli police said an officer was mortally wounded during the rescue operation.

It was carried out despite growing international pressure on Israel after a deadly strike on a UN-run school in Nuseirat where displaced Gazans were sheltering.

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.

Near Nuseirat on Saturday, an AFP 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.

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using civilian infrastructure, including UN-run facilities, as operational centres — charges the militants deny.

 

‘Defenceless’ 

 

The war has brought widespread devastation to Gaza, with one in 20 people dead or wounded, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. Most of Gaza’s 2.4 million inhabitants are displaced.

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

Yussef Al Dalu said his neighbour’s house had been reduced to rubble.

“I know that only defenceless civilians live in this house who are not part of any resistance [group],” he told AFPTV.

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 Saturday his government would suspend coal exports to Israel “until the genocide stops”.

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