New video shows Israeli hostage rescue; Hamas reaction to cease-fire resolution a ‘hopeful sign,’ Blinken says

June 11, 2024
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TEL AVIV, Israel —Dramatic new video shows the moment Israeli hostages were rescued from an apartment in central Gaza, a high-risk raid that left a trail of devastation in its wake and raised new doubts about the United States’ push for a cease-fire.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken touted positive signs after the United Nations Security Council backed a proposal outlined by President Joe Biden for a truce between Israel and Hamas that would secure the release of hostages still held in the enclave.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had “reaffirmed his support for this proposal,” Blinken said Tuesday morning after meeting with top Israeli officials. He also welcomed Hamas expressing support for the U.N. resolution as a “hopeful sign.”

The hostage rescue added uncertainty to the complex diplomatic efforts, with new details emerging from the weekend raid.

Officers can be seen racing toward an apartment building in the Nuseirat refugee camp as blasts ring out in the footage, which was captured on their helmet cameras and released by the Israel Police on Monday.

After forcing the apartment’s door open, they scan an empty room with flashlights before pushing forward into what appears to be a bedroom, where they find at least two of the hostages rescued on Saturday, with Almog Meir Jan, 21, and Andrey Kozlov, 27, visible in the video.

Dramatic footage from IDF headcam shows hostage rescue
Israeli forces enter an apartment where hostages were being held in Gaza. via Israel Police
Dramatic footage from IDF headcam shows hostage rescue
Hostages shield their ears during a loud explosion inside the apartment as Israeli forces conduct the operation. via Israel Police

The officers appear to ask the hostages for their names, before Kozlov can be heard shouting back, “Andrey!” as both men raise their hands up. Huddling together as fighting appears to break out around them, both Jan and Kozlov appear visibly shaken before the video cuts to their escape from the building in broad daylight.

The two men were among four hostages rescued by Israeli forces and police officers on Saturday, with Noa Argamani, 26, and Shlomi Ziv, 40 also freed from captivity eight months after they were taken hostage into Gaza during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks.

Argamani was held in a separate apartment from the three men about 200 meters, or 220 yards, away, Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a news briefing following the raid.

He said forces targeted the two apartments simultaneously and carried out the operation in the daytime to ensure a greater element of surprise.

Amid an intense firefight with Hamas militants during the rescue, a vehicle carrying the three male hostages broke down and commandos were forced to hastily load the hostages into a separate vehicle under fire before driving them to a waiting helicopter, the IDF confirmed to NBC News on Monday.

Once the escape was complete, commandos used the code words “we have the diamonds,” Hagari said.

All four were swiftly reunited with their families.

Argamani, whose boyfriend Avinatan Or is believed to remain in Hamas’ custody, finally able to be with her mother, who has terminal brain cancer. For Jan, the reunion came hours too late, with his own father dying the morning of the 21-year-old’s rescue.

Blinken also met with hostage families during his time in Israel, before heading to Jordan.

Biden administration officials have discussed the possibility of negotiating a unilateral deal with Hamas to secure the release of Americans who are believed to remain held hostage in Gaza if current cease-fire talks fail,  two current senior U.S. officials and two former senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

The IDF said Tuesday that Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, had arrived in Israel as a guest of Israeli military Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi to hold on operational assessment discussing regional challenges.

The operation took a deadly toll on Palestinians sheltering in Nuseirat, with more than 274 people, including dozens of children, killed during the raid, according to local health officials.

Hagari acknowledged there had been fatalities in connection with the operation, saying the IDF believed the death toll was less than 100 people and did not know how many were Hamas fighters.

Video in the aftermath of the raid showed charred bodies scattered across streets in Nuseirat, while Palestinians could be seen gathering the remains of those killed. Bloodied children could also be seen arriving at a local hospital, already overcrowded with injured patients.

Israel has faced growing outrage and isolation on the international stage as the death toll continues to mount in Gaza, with more than 37,000 people killed, according to the Gaza health ministry, since Israeli forces launched their offensive in the enclave following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, in which around 1,200 were killed and some 250 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

More than 100 hostages are thought to remain held captive in Gaza, with at least a quarter of them believed to be dead.

Andrea Mitchell reported from Tel Aviv, and Chantal Da Silva from London.

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