Only a deal will bring all or most hostages home, but IDF should be given the time to do its best

Opinion: The extraction of two hostages from captivity in Rafah will be studies in the history books and is the stuff of movies but Hamas is also learning from the operation and the next extraction would be harder to achieve

Yossi Yehushua|
It was an operation that would be studied in the history books and was the material films and television shows are made of: IDF forces, along with Shin Bet operatives and the police anti-terrorism unit went in to a building in Rafah and extracted Louis Har and Fernando Marman who had been held hostage by Hamas terrorists since October 7.
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"Science fiction," the operation was called initially and when the forces rescued the hostages, they reported back "The diamonds are in our hands."
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לוחמי 669  אמש לאחר שנחתו מהמבצע לחילוץ החטופים בעזה
לוחמי 669  אמש לאחר שנחתו מהמבצע לחילוץ החטופים בעזה
Fighters in the airborne extraction unit
As details are revealed, it becomes more evident that nothing in the operation was to be taken for granted. Unlike in northern Gaza, IDF troops are not present in some parts of Khan Younis and in Rafah, which is one of the most crowded areas in the world and where no fan of Israel could be found.
In preparation for the extraction, the forces considered as much information as was available but ultimately a level of uncertainty in such a surgical operation persisted. That is why it had been postponed a couple of times before it was finally executed.
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צה"ל חושף תיעוד מרגעי חילוץ החטופים במהלך המבצע ברפיח:״החטופים בידינו, תקינים ובריאים, אנחנו עולים על מסוק וטסים לבית החולים״
צה"ל חושף תיעוד מרגעי חילוץ החטופים במהלך המבצע ברפיח:״החטופים בידינו, תקינים ובריאים, אנחנו עולים על מסוק וטסים לבית החולים״
Freed hostages on their way to a hospital in Israel
(Photo: IDF)
It is not enough to award the troops with an A, or to describe how precise their work had been, especially that of the anti-terror forces and the Shin Bet. They proved that they are the best in the world at their craft.
The success brought a sense of elation to Israelis after long days of stalemate in efforts to free hostages from Gaza. It is therefore time to consider tactical and strategic takeaways from the operation.
This was the first proof since the rescuing of IDF soldier Ori Megidish at the start of the war, that hostages could be freed in military operations conducted by special forces. Not all of the captives would be rescued in such a manner, perhaps not even most of them, but it is important for the public to know what the troops are focused on and for Hamas to learn first-hand what the Israeli security forces are capable of.
In this case the hostages were being held above ground in an apartment, perhaps because the IDF had been on the offensive nearby. But Hamas has studied the matter and will make it more difficult the next time a rescue is attempted.
So, while opportunities must be sought out, it is clear that most of the live hostages would only be freed in an exchange deal.
The IDF has been given a freedom to operate in the area that had been off limits a few months ago. In Rafah, considered the last stronghold for Hamas, the terror group is vulnerable and its forces struggling to operate.
יוסי יהושועYossi Yehoshua
Patience is now the most valuable weapon. The IDF is making headways in Gaza and will soon complete its hold on Khan Younis. The pressure is on from the U.S and Egypt, while the Europeans are also pushing for a cease-fire.
Israelis are tired of the trauma and want to see their brothers and sisters, home. But when the IDF asks for time, we must give it to them so that they can do what they do best.
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