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Relative of freed hostage appeals for Gaza deal

Palestinians inspect the damage amid the rubble of a building where two hostages were reportedly held before being rescued during an operation by Israeli security forcess in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.

Said Khatib / AFP


A relative of a hostage freed overnight from Gaza appealed Monday for a broader deal between Israel and Hamas to secure the release of others still held in the Palestinian territory.

A special forces raid in Gaza's southern city of Rafah saw Louis Har, 70, and Fernando Simon Marman, 60, liberated, while around 100 Palestinians were killed in accompanying air strikes, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

Speaking from an Israeli hospital where the two were undergoing medical checks, Har's son-in-law described "a lot of tears, hugs, not many words" when the family was reunited.

"Luckily for us, as a family, they were saved tonight. But I must say that the job is not done," Idan Bejerano told journalists at Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv.

"We are happy today, but we didn't win. It's just another step towards bringing all the other" hostages home, he continued.

Talks have been underway for weeks to secure a second truce in the four-month war, which would see more hostages freed in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press on with the fight into Rafah, sparking international alarm for the 1.4 million Palestinians taking refuge there.

One Hamas leader told AFP such a move by Israeli forces would "torpedo" ceasefire negotiations.

A week-long truce in November secured the release of more than 100 Gaza hostages, in exchange for 240 Palestinians held in Israel.

Among those who had been released as part of that deal was Clara Marman, the partner of Louis Har and sister of Fernando Marman, as well as her sister Gabriela Leimberg and her 17-year-old daughter Mia Leimberg, according to the Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum campaign group.

Speaking hours after his Israeli-Argentinian relative was freed, Bejerano urged leaders to "be serious and strike a deal".

"The Israeli people need the deal done. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, today. We want it done as soon as possible," he said.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum also stepped up pressure on Israeli authorities to bring hom the remaining captives.

"Time is running out for the remaining hostages held captive by Hamas," it said in a statement.

"Their lives are at risk with each passing moment. The Israeli government must exhaust every option on the table to release them."

During Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, militants seized around 250 hostages, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. Israel says around 130 are still in Gaza, though 29 are thought to be dead.

The attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Israel has responded with a relentless offensive in Gaza that the territory's health ministry says has killed at least 28,176 people as of Sunday, mostly women and children.