Dozens of Palestinians killed amid fighting in Gaza near hostage release zone

8 June 2024, 14:44

A man carries a girl to hospital
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

Four Israeli hostages were liberated earlier on Saturday.

At least 94 bodies have arrived at a hospital in central Gaza during heavy fighting, a health official has said.

Khalil Degran spoke to The Associated Press as fighting continued in the part of Gaza where the Israeli military rescued four hostages on Saturday morning.

The official said more than 100 injured people have also arrived at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah.

Handout image of Noa Ar gamani
Noa Argamani is one of the four named hostages (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

Israel said after the hostage release that it would continue fighting until all those taken by Hamas in the October 7 attack that triggered the war are freed.

Earlier, Israel’s army said it rescued Noa Argamani, 25; Almog Meir Jan, 21; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 40, in two locations in a complex daytime operation in the heart of Nuseirat on Saturday morning, raiding the two places at once and under fire.

Ms Argamani had been one of the most widely-recognised hostages after being abducted from a music festival in southern Israel. The video of her abduction was among the first to surface, with Ms Argamani detained between two men on a motorcycle as she screamed: “Don’t kill me!”

Her mother, Liora, has stage four brain cancer and in April released a video pleading to see her daughter before she dies.

A hostage is flown to safety
Andrey Kozlov, 27, one of four hostages who were kidnapped, arrived by helicopter to the Sheba Medical Centre in Ramat Gan, Israel (AP)

An elated Ms Argamani spoke by phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In an audio message released by the government, Mr Netanyahu is heard asking how she is feeling. She tells him she is “very excited”, adding she has not heard Hebrew in “so long”.

The bodies of nearly 100 Palestinians killed were taken to Al-Aqsa Hospital, where a spokesperson told The Associated Press more than 100 wounded also arrived. AP reporters also saw the dead brought to the hospital from the Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah areas as smoke rose in the distance.

Israel’s military said it attacked “threats to our forces in the area”. The military said one fighter had been seriously wounded.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip arrive at al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah (AP)

Hamas took some 250 hostages during the October 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people. About half were released during a week-long ceasefire in November. Israel says more than 130 hostages remain, with about a quarter of those believed dead. Divisions are deepening over the best way to bring them home.

International pressure mounts on Israel to limit civilian bloodshed in its war in Gaza, which reached its eighth month on Friday with more than 36,700 Palestinians killed, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians.

Palestinians face widespread hunger because fighting and Israeli restrictions have largely cut off the flow of aid.

A poster of a kidnapped Israeli
Hundreds of Israelis were kidnapped in a Hamas-led attack on October 7 (AP)

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will return to the Middle East next week, seeking a breakthrough in the apparently stalled cease-fire negotiations.

Saturday’s hostage recovery operation brings the total of rescued captives to seven. Two men were rescued in February when troops stormed a heavily guarded apartment, and a woman was rescued in the aftermath of the October attack.

Israeli troops have recovered at least 16 bodies of hostages from Gaza, according to the government.

Defence minister Yoav Gallant called Saturday’s rescue “a heroic operation” and vowed the army will fight until all hostages are returned.

Almog Meir Jan waves his hands in the air
Almog Meir Jan was among those kidnapped (AP)

Mr Netanyahu faces growing pressure to end the fighting in Gaza. Many Israelis urge him to embrace a deal announced last month by US President Joe Biden, but far-right allies threaten to collapse his government if he does.

Israel is intensifying operations across central Gaza, where the hostages were rescued. On Thursday, an Israeli air strike hit a UN-run school compound in Nuseirat, killing more than 33 people inside the school, including three women and nine children.

Some 30 militants were said to be inside at the time and on Friday, with Israel released the names of 17 militants it said were killed. However, only nine of those names matched with records of the dead from the hospital mortuary.

One of the alleged militants was an eight-year-old boy, according to hospital records.

By Press Association

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