With the dramatic rescue by the IDF of Louis Har, 70, and Fernando Marman, 61, in Rafah, the last two of the five members of Idan Bejerano’s family captured by Hamas on Oct. 7 have been reunited with their loved ones.
By Amelie Botbol, JNS )
On Feb. 12, Idan Bejerano’s wish came true: Israeli forces rescued the last two members of his extended family taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 in a daring mission in Rafah in southern Gaza.
During Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev, Fernando Marman, 61, and Bejerano’s father-in-law Louis Har, 70, were kidnapped from kibbutz Nir Yitzhak along with three additional family members—Har’s partner Clara Merman, her sister Gabriela Leimberg and Gabriela’s daughter Mia Leimberg.
All three women were released on Nov. 28, along with Mia Leimberg’s dog, Bella, as part of a week-long ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, while Marman and Har would remain in captivity for another 76 days, having spent a total of 129 days in Hamas captivity.
Speaking with JNS at a 24-hour rally last month at Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square marking the hostages’ 100th day of captivity, Bejenaro, Louis Har’s son-in-law, said, “Louis, Fernando, we care about you. We miss you. We want you home as soon as possible. Please come back now.”
Having addressed the crowd and toured the square, he said, “It’s heartwarming to see so much support…. [T]he amount of people, it’s huge.”
Marman and Har, who have been reunited with loved ones at Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Ramat Gan, have said they were held captive in the home of a family in Rafah, according to the Ynet news site.
Har was welcomed at Sheba by his four children and 10 grandchildren, a reunion which Bejerano described to Israeli media as a moment of joy and optimism.
While Bejerano had expressed some concern with regard to Har’s high blood pressure and need to sleep wearing an oxygen mask, the two hostages are in good medical condition, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
However, Marman is not the only hostage with preexisting medical conditions, and while there have been efforts to ship medications to the captives via the Red Cross, it remains unclear whether they were received.
“There is discussion about allowing medicine into Gaza. This is nice but it’s similar to treating an erupted vein with a bandaid. It’s not enough,” Bejerano told JNS at last month’s rally.
In a press statement following the rescue operation, The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said, “We commend the IDF soldiers who demonstrated strength and bravery to secure the release of the two hostages, and wish them all to return home safely and speedily.”
However, the statement continued, “Time is running out for the remaining hostages held captive by Hamas. Their lives are at risk with each passing moment. The Israeli government must exhaust every option on the table to release them. The lives of 134 hostages still hang in the balance,” it added.
The rescue mission comes as Israel prepares to dispatch a delegation to Cairo this week to discuss a new hostage deal with U.S., Egyptian and Qatari officials.
On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said intelligence recovered by the IDF in Gaza is making a “realistic” deal possible.
“We penetrated into the heart of Hamas’s most sensitive places and are using their intelligence against them,” said Gallant. “The more we deepen this operation, the closer we are to a realistic deal in order to return the captives.”
Also on Sunday, reports emerged of Egypt warning Hamas that it must agree to a hostage deal with Jerusalem within two weeks to avert an IDF operation in Rafah, the terror group’s last stronghold in the Gaza Strip.