New video shows how the raid took place; The United Nations says war crimes may have been committed

TEL AVIV – A dramatic new video shows the moment Israeli hostages were rescued from an apartment in central Gaza, a high-stakes raid that left a trail of devastation in its wake and raised new doubts about the US push for a ceasefire.

As details of the operation emerged and freed prisoner Noa Argamani was released from hospital on Tuesday, the UN human rights office said that Israeli forces and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes in connection with the weekend raid.

In Israel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed positive signs after the United Nations Security Council supported a proposal by President Joe Biden for a truce between Israel and Hamas that would ensure the release of hostages still being held in the Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reaffirmed his support for this proposal,” Blinken said Tuesday morning after his meeting with senior Israeli officials. He also welcomed Hamas’ expression of support for the UN resolution, describing it as a “hopeful sign.”

Hamas confirmed on Tuesday that it had submitted its official response to Egypt and Qatar, which are mediating the negotiations.

The response included amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timetable for a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News.

The video shows the hostage rescue operation

Officers can be seen racing towards an apartment building in the Nuseirat refugee camp as explosions ring out in the video, captured on their helmet cameras and released by Israeli police on Monday.

After forcing open the apartment door, they scanned an empty room with flashlights before proceeding to what appeared to be a bedroom, where they found at least two hostages who were rescued on Saturday.

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The video shows Almog Meir Jan, 21 years old, and Andrei Kozlov, 27 years old.

Israeli forces enter an apartment where hostages were being held in Gaza. Via the Israeli police
Hostages protect their ears during a powerful explosion inside the apartment during an operation by Israeli forces. Via the Israeli police

The officers appear to ask the hostages their names, before Kozlov is heard shouting: “Andrei!” While both men raise their hands. Jan and Kozlov huddle together as fighting appears to break out around them, and both Jan and Kozlov appear visibly shaken before the video cuts to them escaping the building in broad daylight.

The two men were among four hostages rescued by Israeli forces and police officers on Saturday, as Argamani, 26, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, were also released from captivity eight months after they were held hostage in Gaza during the October 7 Hamas attacks.

The four were quickly reunited with their families.

Argamani, whose boyfriend Avinatan Or is believed to still be detained by Hamas, was finally able to stay with her mother, who has terminal brain cancer. For Jan, the reunion came very late, as his father died on the morning of the 21-year-old’s rescue.

The hospital said in a statement that Argamani was discharged from Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning after undergoing a series of medical examinations. She added that Argamani and other relatives would stay nearby to stay close to her mother.

Blinken also met with hostage families during his time in Israel, before heading to Jordan.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with families of hostages being held in the Gaza Strip during a visit to Tel Aviv on Tuesday.Amir Levy/Getty Images

Biden administration officials have discussed the possibility of negotiating a unilateral agreement with Hamas to ensure the release of Americans believed to still be held hostage in Gaza if current ceasefire talks fail, two current and two former senior U.S. officials told NBC. News.

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that General Michael “Eric” Kurella, commander of US Central Command, arrived in Israel as a guest of IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy to conduct an operational assessment discussing regional challenges.

The United Nations indicates possible war crimes

The rescue operation led to heavy casualties among the Palestinians who took refuge in Nuseirat, as more than 274 people, including dozens of children, were killed during the raid, according to local health officials.

Israeli army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari acknowledged that there had been deaths in connection with the operation, saying that the Israeli army believed the death toll was less than 100 people and did not know the number of Hamas fighters.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday that it was “deeply shocked” by the impact on civilians in Nuseirat.

Spokesman Jeremy Lawrence said: “The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area raises serious questions about whether Israeli forces respected the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution – as set out in the laws of war.” .

He said that the United Nations is also “deeply saddened” by the continued holding of hostages by armed groups in Gaza, including in densely populated areas, which he said exposes “the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as the hostages themselves, to additional danger.”

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Lawrence added, “All of these actions by both parties may amount to war crimes.”

A video clip following the raid showed charred bodies scattered in the streets of Nuseirat, while Palestinians could be seen collecting the remains of the dead. Bloodied children can also be seen arriving at a local hospital, already crowded with infected patients.

Israel faces growing anger and isolation on the international stage as the death toll in Gaza continues to rise, with more than 37,000 people killed, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, since Israeli forces launched their attack on the Strip following the Hamas attack on October 7. The attacks killed about 1,200 people and took about 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

It is believed that more than 100 hostages are still being held in Gaza, and at least a quarter of them are believed to be dead.

Andrea Mitchell reports from Tel Aviv and Chantal da Silva from London.

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