Mahmoud Abbas has slammed the IDF operation as a “bloody massacre” A man runs on the rubble of destroyed buildings following operations by the Israeli Special Forces in Nuseirat, Gaza, June 8, 2024 © AFP / Eyad Baba

Israeli forces killed more than 200 Palestinians in the land, sea, and air attack that accompanied their rescue of four hostages from Nuseirat in central Gaza on Saturday, authorities in the enclave have claimed.

As Israeli jets launched airstrikes on the sprawling Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a short statement saying that it was targeting “terror infrastructure” in the area. Several hours later, the IDF announced that a team of police and military commandos had rescued four hostages from Hamas captivity in Nuseirat, taking heavy fire on the way in and out of the camp.

Shortly after the hostages were returned to Israel, reports of massive Palestinian casualties began to surface. Gaza’s health ministry said that “large numbers” of wounded, the majority of them women and children, arrived at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital shortly after the raid.

Videos shared on social media showed dead bodies strewn along the streets of Nuseirat, many of them missing limbs. Several children could be seen among the dead.

Israeli troops free four hostages from Gaza Israeli troops free four hostages from Gaza

Later on Saturday, the Gaza Government Media Office said that 210 people had been killed in the IDF assault on Nuseirat and the surrounding area. It is unclear how many Hamas fighters were among the casualties, as the group – which governs Gaza – does not list its own casualties separately.
One Israeli counterterrorism officer was fatally wounded in the rescue operation, and died shortly after the team returned to Israel, police said in a statement.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack on Nuseirat as a “bloody massacre” and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described scenes from the camp as “appalling,” and called on Israel to accept a ceasefire plan proposed by US President Joe Biden last week.

Hamas captured around 250 hostages during its October 7 attack on Israel. Around half of this number were traded for Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire in November, and seven have been rescued by Israeli forces. Some 120 hostages are still being held by Hamas, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters on Saturday.

In the eight months since Israel declared war on Hamas, Israeli forces have killed more than 36,800 Palestinians and injured nearly 84,000, according to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry.