Flares fired by Israel over Khan Yunis
Representational image AFP

The Israeli Defense Forces announced early Monday that two hostages were rescued in the context of an operation in southern Gaza.

They are Argentine-Israeli Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70), both of whom were taken from Kibbutz Nir Yizhak in the October 7 attacks where some 1,200 Israelis were killed and over 240 hostages.

"They are both in good medical condition and were transferred for further medical examination in Israel," the IDF added in an X publication. It's the second time since the beginning of the war where the Israeli forces conduct a successful rescue operation.

According to Axios, special forces managed to covertly reach a building in which the hostages were held, blow up the door of an apartment and kill three militants before rescuing the hostages.

This week, the Israeli forces said that 136 hostages remained in Gaza, but authorities had informed the relatives of 31 of them that they were dead. Nine of the remaining people under the control of Hamas are Argentine. Hamas' military wing said on Sunday that two other hostages had died and eight were critically wounded as a result recent bombings by Israel, but no outlets were able to independently verify that information.

The operation took place as Israeli forces are beginning a military operation in the city of Rafah, in southern Gaza and close to the border with Egypt. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said that the last major town that hasn't been widely targeted by the IDF and where more than a million Palestinians have moved, to was seeing attacks, with dozens of deaths reported. An Israeli officials told Axios that heavy strikes in Rafah were a diversion to allow the extraction of the hostages.

The escalation is taking place at the same time that mediators are seeking to move forward to an agreement that will see the release of remaining hostages in exchange for a weeks-long ceasefire.

Qatari, Egyptian, Israeli and U.S. officials are expected to hold a meeting in Cairo on Tuesday to continue working towards that end. A Gaza-based Palestinian official close to the militant group later AFP they expected negotiations to be "difficult", but said Hamas was "keen to reach a ceasefire".

In Riyadh, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan reiterated calls for a "immediate and complete ceasefire", as well as "irreversible" steps towards the recognition of a Palestinian state during talks on the war in Gaza, Saudi state media reported on Friday.

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