New details on the successful rescue of Israeli hostages Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har from the Gaza Strip overnight Monday highlight the security forces' meticulous planning and the high level of certainty required before the order to go in was given.
In fact, earlier plans to extract the two men were not executed because the conditions were not right.
During the overnight operation, police counterterrorism units and Shin Bet operatives caught the terrorists off guard in the house where the hostages were being held and eliminated them within seconds. As soon as the troops' presence was detected, they came under fire from nearby buildings and many more terrorists were killed in the ensuing firefight.
A key aspect of such operations is not just breaching the building and rescuing the hostages but also ensuring a safe retreat back across the border to Israel. To that end, an order was given to direct heavy bombardments of Hamas military sites, command centers and police facilities. The terrorists tried to regroup and call for backup but were unsuccessful. A vehicle used by the terrorists to pursue the forces was attacked from the air.
The entire operation lasted an hour and a half on the ground, beginning when the forces came under gunfire and concluding with the hostages being transported to Sheba Medical Center in central Israel. During that time, the security services and the IDF demonstrated their distinctive capabilities, which included accurate intelligence, special forces and significant firepower, secured by tanks and helicopters to safely extract the forces from the area.
The operation was led by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi from the war room in Southern Command and Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar from the command and control center at Shin Bet headquarters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant later joined them.
This successful operation underscored the significance of the military offensive in Gaza. The intelligence collected throughout the war facilitated the successful extraction of the hostages.
Some believe this operation may influence Hamas's stance in upcoming negotiations for a new hostage release deal. Israeli officials are hopeful that the operation, executed in Rafah—a city Hamas has sought to protect from Israeli incursions—might compel the group to reconsider its position. The prospect of a comprehensive offensive on the city could motivate the terrorist group to expedite a deal.
However, the operation took place above ground, not within the underground tunnels where most of the remaining hostages are presumed to be held, a scenario where extraction would pose greater challenges.