Israel rescues four hostages from Gaza 'in good medical condition'

Israeli forces have freed four hostages from Gaza, in the largest rescue operation since the latest war with Hamas began on 7 October.

They are in good medical condition, Israeli authorities said, and are being checked at Sheba hospital in Tel Aviv, where they will spend the night.

It was also one of the single bloodiest Israeli assaults, killing 210 Palestinians in the area, including children, and injuring 400, Gaza's state-run health ministry said.

Abu Ubaida, a spokesperson for Hamas's armed al Qassam Brigades, said some hostages were also killed during the operation in al Nuseirat.

The rescued hostages, who were captured by Hamas from the Nova music festival in October, were named as Noa Argamani, 25, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40.

Israeli forces retrieved them "under fire" from two houses in the al Nuseirat refugee camp in a "complex mission in daylight", according to Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

He said the operation involved hundreds of troops and was "weeks in the planning".

Orit Meir, the mother of 21-year-old Almog Meir Jan, told journalists in Tel Aviv she was "so excited to hug him today".

Follow live: More than 200 killed in Gaza operation, Hamas says

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a news conference at Sheba hospital: "This operation required ingenuity and courage of the highest degree, and our soldiers performed in an unmatchable way."

As the operation unfolded, bodies and injured people flooded the already strained al Aqsa hospital in Gaza - where the healthcare system has been decimated and children are dying of malnutrition, humanitarian groups say.

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Hamas said in a statement: "In a brutal crime that confirms the nature of this criminal fascist entity, devoid of the values of civilisation and humanity, the terrorist occupation army committed a horrific massacre against innocent civilians in the Nuseirat refugee camp."

One Israeli special forces officer was killed in the mission, Israeli police said.

A video showing Noa Argamani being reunited with her father, smiling and hugging him and putting her head on his shoulder, was shown on Israeli News 12.

Video of Noa's kidnapping was widely shared soon after she was taken by two men on a motorbike into Gaza on 7 October.

The Hostages Families Forum Headquarters - a volunteer-based organisation set up to help bring hostages home - celebrated the "heroic operation", calling it a "miraculous triumph".

But it added: "Now, with the joy that is washing over Israel, the Israeli government must remember its commitment to bring back all 120 hostages still held by Hamas - the living for rehabilitation, the murdered for burial."

Around 1,200 people were killed in southern Israel during the 7 October Hamas attack that sparked this latest war, and around 250 people were taken hostage.

About half the captives were released during a temporary ceasefire in November in exchange for imprisoned Palestinians, and two men were rescued in February.

Israel believes around 116 hostages remain in the Palestinian enclave - at least 40 of whom have been declared dead in absentia by authorities.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, and devastated schools, hospitals, homes and universities.

With famine emerging in parts of the long-besieged enclave, even Israel's closest allies have increased pressure on it to let in more food and prevent further deaths.

Mr Netanyahu is facing calls from many Israelis urging him to embrace a deal announced last month by US President Joe Biden, but far-right allies are threatening to collapse his government if he does.