A wave of heavy airstrikes launched to cover the rescuers echoed across the border town of Rafah, where over half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million has sought shelter from fighting elsewhere.
Israel has said the town on the border with Egypt will be the next target of its offensive, which has already killed over 28,000 Palestinians and driven around 80% of Gaza's population from their homes. The war erupted after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and capturing 250 others. Over 100 hostages were released during a cease-fire last year.
Here is a look at how the raid unfolded.
1:49 a.m. — Israeli special forces storm a second-floor apartment in Rafah where the hostages are being held. The military says the soldiers used their own bodies to shield the two hostages as a gunbattle erupted with the captors.
1:50 a.m. — Immediately after the start of the operation, Israeli warplanes and attack helicopters unleash a series of airstrikes to provide cover. The strikes flatten several residential blocks in a built-up refugee camp dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.
2:30 a.m. — First reports of Palestinian casualties from Israeli strikes.
3:14 a.m. — The freed hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, arrive at Sheba Hospital in central Israel by helicopter from Gaza. They are embraced by relatives, who say they are in good physical condition.
5:30 a.m. — Hospitals in Rafah confirm 20 Palestinians killed in strikes.
9:59 a.m.— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the hostages home and praises the forces who rescued them in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
10:17 a.m.— The Gaza Health Ministry says 67 Palestinians were killed in the operation, with the toll likely to rise as recovery efforts continue.