Israeli forces rescue 2 hostages from Rafah, 67 people die in attacks

Israeli forces say they have rescued two men taken hostage by Hamas in Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza District.

Following the rescue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages."

Qatar-based Al Jazeera and other news outlets have reported heavy airstrikes and bombardments by Israeli forces early Monday morning. Health authorities in Gaza say Israeli attacks killed 67 people.

A Rafah resident told NHK that at around 1 a.m, he suddenly heard the sounds of airstrikes and a gun battle.
He said these are the first major airstrikes in Rafah since the start of fighting last October.

Netanyahu is determined to launch a ground offensive in the city. He ordered the military to draw up a plan to destroy Hamas while ensuring the safe evacuation of civilians from Rafah.

The plan has been met with concern by the US and by Egypt, which is mediating hostage release negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The international community is worried about more civilian casualties.