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Four hostages have been recovered alive in what’s being widely described as the Israel Defense Forces’ biggest rescue operation in the Gaza Strip since the war began.

All of them had been initially kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music festival on October 7 and they are: Noa Argamani, 25, Almong Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27 and Shlomi Ziv, 40. Authorities have confirmed they are in good medical condition and they underwent evaluations at Tel Aviv’s largest hospital.

From left; Shlomi Ziv; Andrey Kozlov and Almog Meir Jan and Noa Argamani.

In total hundreds of soldiers participated in the high-risk operation, but which was spearheaded by the police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet agents.

These units raided a pair of Hamas buildings in central Gaza’s Nuseirat where the captives were being held, with the operation done “under fire”. One officer of the counter-terror unit, identified as Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, was critically wounded in the assault and later died at a hospital.

At least 50 Palestinians were killed in the major operation, Israeli media reports, however the military hasn’t specified how many were combatants. Some regional reports say that as many as 200 Palestinians, among them many civilians, were killed in related strikes and operations in central Gaza on Saturday.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that “During the operation, we struck… threats to our forces in the area. These threats were struck from the land, air, and sea… for us to extract our forces [and the hostages].” The freed Israelis had been in captivity for eight months.

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