Israel rescues four hostages in operation that kills unknown number of Palestinians

Israeli forces have rescued four hostages held by Hamas since October in a military operation in Gaza that killed an unknown number of Palestinians. According to the Hamas-run government media office in Gaza, the death toll has risen to at least 210 Palestinians.

The four rescued hostages had all been kidnapped from the Nova music festival during the deadly raid by Hamas-led Palestinian militants on Israeli towns and villages near Gaza on 7 October.

The rescue operation took place in the heart of a residential neighbourhood, in central Gaza's Nuseirat area, where Hamas had kept the hostages in apartment blocks. According to an Israeli military spokesperson, Israel's forces came under intense fire during the operation and responded by firing "from the air and from the street". An Israeli special forces commander was killed during the operation, a police statement said.

The Israeli army acknowledged that Palestinians were killed in the fighting, but blamed Hamas for holding hostages in a civilian environment. It’s not yet clear how many Palestinians died during the attack. The Hamas-run government media office said the death toll was at least 210 Palestinians with many more wounded, after medics and health officials gave earlier tolls of up to 100 dead. Many people were killed in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is calling for an emergency session of the UN Security Council following the “bloody massacre” by Israeli forces in the Nuseirat camp. According to a statement, he is “engaged in intensive diplomatic efforts with Arab and international stakeholders” to convene the session.

Palestinians walk on the rubble of destroyed buildings following an operations by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp © PHOTO EYAD BABA / AFP

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