Two hostages rescued in intense Rafah bombardment

Israeli forces say they have rescued two hostages being held in the city of Rafah early this morning. Officials say the men, Fernando Merman and Luis Har, were taken to a hospital and are in good condition.

Israeli Defense Forces carried out an intense bombardment in the southern Gazan city of Rafah overnight. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says the strikes killed 67 Palestinians in the overcrowded city, including women and children. Across the Strip, the ministry says 164 people were killed in the last day.

According to the IDF, the airstrikes were used in the operation to disengage troops and hit Hamas targets. Nearly 1.5 million people are sheltering in Rafah,  after being displaced by Israeli operations elsewhere.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with the operation even though the U.S. and the international community have repeatedly expressed their public opposition to it and have urged Israel to provide safe passage to Palestinian civilians.

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed a deal to secure the release of hostages in Gaza at length on Sunday, according to a senior administration official, who cautioned that while a framework is in place, gaps remain. CIA Director William Burns will be in Egypt tomorrow to continue talks on a hostage release deal, which would include a humanitarian pause and a better plan for humanitarian assistance to get into Gaza.

28,100 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its retaliatory offensive following the October 7th Hamas attack. At least 67,500 people have been injured, with thousands still missing and presumed dead.

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