The Israeli army said Friday that two soldiers were “severely injured” during a hostage rescue operation overnight in the Gaza Strip, with Hamas claiming a captive was killed in the attempt.
Hamas dragged around 240 hostages back to Gaza after its bloody October 7 attack on Israel, and fears for their safety have gripped the Israeli public over the course of the eight-week war.
In a statement, the army said “two [Israeli army] soldiers were severely injured during an operation to rescue hostages held by Hamas.”
“During the operation, numerous terrorists who took part in the abducting and holding of hostages were killed,” it said.
“No hostages were rescued in this activity,” it added.
Earlier, Hamas said its fighters had “succeeded in foiling an Israeli attempt to free an Israeli captive.”
“A fierce gunfight broke out between the Al-Qassam fighters and the Israeli special force, leaving many soldiers wounded while the captive Israeli... was announced killed,” Hamas said in an English-language statement.
The group released a video showing what it said was the hostage’s body. AFP was unable to independently verify its authenticity.
The Israeli army did not confirm or deny the Hamas statement.
“Please refrain from spreading unverified rumors and enabling psychological terror by Hamas,” it said.
A one-week truce that ended on December 1 saw 105 hostages released from Gaza, including 80 Israelis -- mostly women and children -- in exchange for 240 Palestinians jailed by Israel.
Efforts to revive the ceasefire have stalled and Israel says 138 hostages are believed to still be in Hamas captivity.