Abigail Klein Leichman
February 12

In the wee hours of Monday morning, a dramatic rescue operation in the Gaza Strip brought two of the 136 remaining hostages back to Israel: Fernando Marman, 61, and Louis Norbeto Har, 70.

“Last night, we brought Louis and Fernando home,” said IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

“In a joint rescue operation by the IDF, the Israel Security Agency, and the Yamam – the special forces unit of the Israel Police — we rescued Louis Har and Fernando Marman, who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 from Nir Yitzhak.”

Hagari said the complex operation, performed under heavy fire in Rafah, had been planned “for some time” based on information gathered by the Intelligence Directorate and the Israel Security Agency.

The operatives were waiting for conditions that would allow the plan’s implementation, and that occurred at 1:49 in the morning on February 12.

Under cover of airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force and Southern Command, “the special forces breached into a building in the heart of Rafah,” Hagari said.

“On the second floor, Louis and Fernando were held by armed Hamas terrorists, who were present in the building along with terrorists who were in the adjacent buildings. From the moment of the breach and entry into the apartment, Yamam forces shielded Louis and Fernando with their bodies, initiating a daring battle and heavy exchanges of fire at several locations simultaneously, with many terrorists.” One soldier was lightly injured.

Israel rejoices at rescue of two hostages
An ambulance and stretchers standing by for the arrival of two rescued hostages at Sheba Medical Center, February 12, 2024. Photo by Naama Frank Azriel/Sheba Medical Center

The freed hostages were helicoptered to Sheba Medical Center, reunited with their families and declared to be in “good and stable” condition after an initial medical examination.

The harrowing story began on October 7, when five members of the Argentinean-Israeli Marman/Leimberg family were kidnapped to Gaza from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak near the Gaza border: Kibbutz residents Clara Marman and her partner Louis Har; Clara’s visiting brother Fernando Marman and sister Gabriella Leimberg; and Gabriella’s 17-year-old daughter Mia, who brought along her dog, Bella, hidden under her pajamas.

Clara, Gabriella and Mia (with Bella) were released on November 28.

Dr. Arnon Afek, associate director of Sheba Medical Center, said the hospital will place Har and Marman under medical observation for a few more days.

“I think the most important moment is not just the medical part,” he told reporters, “but rather the personal part, joining with their loved ones who haven’t seen them in four months… These are not young men. They did nothing, they are purely civilians. We are very happy to see them returning to us.”

Afek said that seeing Clara Marman reunited with Louis Har “was one of the most important moments in my life as an experienced medical officer and physician, and I hope to see many more moments like this.”

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