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Columbia To Suspend Coal Exports To Israel; 210 Palestinians 'Killed' Amid Hostage Rescue Op | Latest On Gaza War

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, vowed to continue fighting till all the hostages are freed.

AP
Gaza War | Representative Image Photo: AP
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Carrying out on its largest rescue operation since its war on Gaza, Israel on Saturday freed four hostages from central Gaza in a heavy air and ground assault. Meanwhile, a health official said that at least 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed.

The rescued hostages -- Noa Argamani (26), Almog Meir Jan (22), Andrey Kozlov (27) and Shlomi Ziv (41) -- were taken for medical checks following their release after 246 days in captivity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, vowed to continue fighting till all the hostages are freed. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that their troops' operation was "daring in nature, planned brilliantly, and executed in an extraordinary fashion".

LATEST ON ISRAEL'S WAR ON GAZA

Colombia Will Suspend Coal Exports To Israel

Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Saturday announced that his country will suspend coal exports to Israel over the war in Gaza, as their relations between the two nations, once close military and commercial allies, turned sour.

Taking to X, Petro said that the coal exports will resume only "when the genocide" in Gaza stops.

A draft decree shared by the Colombian President said that the coal exports will resume only if Israel complies with the recent order from the International Court Justice, asking it to "immediately halt" its operations in Rafah, in the Gaza strip.

As per Colombia's National Statistics Department, coal exports to Israel were over USD 320 million in the first eight months of last year, which is a small fraction of the nation's overall coal exports worth over USD 9 billion in 2023.

Elected to office in 2022 as Colombia's first leftist president, Petro broke diplomatic ties with Israel in May, saying that he could not maintain relations with the Netanyahu's "genocidal" government.

Aid Delivered To Gaza Via Repaired US-Built Pier

A US official on Saturday said that urgently needed aid was delivered into Gaza via the newly repaired American-built pier.

The pier, constructed by the American military, was only operational for about a week before it was blown apart in high winds and heavy seas on May 25.

The damaged section was repaired on Friday after undergoing repairs at an Israeli port. The official said that about 1.1 million pounds of humanitarian aid was delivered to Gaza via the pier.

The pier brings back the only one way to get desperately needed food and other emergency supplied to Palestinians trapped by the eight month-long Gaza war.

Israel Rescues 4 Hostages From Central Gaza

Israel on Saturday rescued four hostages from central Gaza, in what was its largest hostage rescue operation since its war on Gaza began.

The army said that it freed, Noa Argamani (26), Almog Meir Jan (22), Andrey Kozlov (27) and Shlomi Ziv (41), in a daytime operation in the heart of Nuseirat.

All four of them were well and taken for medical checks by helicopter, where they also met their loved ones after being held for 246 days.

According to The Associated Press, Argamani had been one of the most recognised hostages after being taken from a music festival. A purported video of her abduction also showed her screaming "Don't kill me!"

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called the operation to be "daring in nature, planned brilliantly and executed in an extraordinary fashion".

Israel's military said it had attacked “threats to our forces in the area,” adding that one commando died from his wounds.

Notably, Saturday's operation brought the total number of rescued hostages to seven. Two were freed earlier in February, while one was freed in the aftermath of the October attack.

Support From US Hostage Cell

Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm Daniel Hagari, said that the intelligence had determined that hostages were being held in two apartments, just about 200 meters away from each other.

He said the forces moved in broad daylight, however, rescuers came under heavy fire as they moved out. “A lot of fire was around us,” he said, adding that the military responded with heavy force, including from aircraft, to extract the rescuers and freed hostages.

A Biden administration official, meanwhile, said that a US hostage cell provided advice and support to Israel, throughout the process of locating and rescuing hostages. The hostage cells are multi-agency teams.

Amid the joy of the freed hostages, several Israelis urged Netanyahu to welcome a cease-fire deal which was announced by US President Joe Biden last month. However, the far-right allies have threatened to cause his government to collapse if he does so.

210 Palestinians Killed, Say Gaza Health Officials

Following Israel's heavy air and ground assault amid its hostage rescue operation, a Gaza health official said that at least 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed.

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Spokesperson Khalil Digran told AP that the bodies of 109 Palestinians, including 23 children and 11 women were taken to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

Digran said that overall, 210 dead were taken to Al-Aqsa Martyrs and Al-Awda Hospital. The latter could however not confirm the exact numbers.

“The horrific massacre committed today by Netanyahu and his fascist government against the Palestinian people in Gaza, which led to slaughter of 210 and more than 400 wounded so far — under the pretext of liberating those detained by the resistance — confirms what the resistance has said repeatedly: that Netanyahu doesn't plan to reach an agreement to stop the war and free the captured Israelis peacefully,” said Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official now based in Lebanon.

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One of the relatives of the deceased in the Nuseirat refugee camp said, "My two cousins were killed, and two other cousins were seriously injured. They did not commit any sin. They were sitting at home."

Neighbouring Egypt condemned Israel' attack "with the strongest terms", with its foreign ministry terming it to be a "flagrant violation of all rules of international law".

European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also said that the "bloodbath must end immediately".

Recap On Israel's War On Gaza

Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7, 2023, killing over 1,100 people and taking some 250 hostages. About 120 hostages remain, with 43 confirmed dead.

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In response, Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of over 36,000 Palestinians, according to health officials.

Survivors include around 15 women, two children under the age of 5 and two men in their 80s.

Notably, the top UN Court -- International Court of Justice -- in its recent order, directed Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

ICJ's ruling was made in response to an emergency request by South Africa, which argued that Israel's actions in Rafah were causing a humanitarian crisis and threatening the lives of thousands of Palestinians.

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Meanwhile, Spain also said that it will join South Africa's genocide case against Israel.

(With agency inputs)

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