PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES/JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Saturday its troops had rescued four Israeli hostages alive from Gaza after a “complex daytime operation”.

“Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (40), were kidnapped by the Hamas terrorist organization from the Nova music festival on October 7,” the military said in a statement. , adding the four were in “good medical condition.”

The Israeli military also said on Saturday in a rare statement that it was targeting militant infrastructure in Gaza’s Nuseirat area and Gaza’s health ministry reported dozens of people hurt.

It is unusual for Israel’s military to inform about its actions while its operations are still under way.

Israel pressed its bombardment of Gaza on Saturday as a war cabinet minister looked set to carry through on his threat to quit a government under mounting pressure over its conduct of the military campaign.

Strikes rattled various parts of the Gaza Strip and appeared to be focused on central areas of the Palestinian territory, witnesses and AFP journalists reported.

The onslaught persisted, despite scrutiny on Israel after its warplanes carried out an attack Thursday on a UN-run school that a Gaza hospital said killed 37 people.

The Israeli military acknowledged it conducted the strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, saying it targeted a base of the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas and killed 17 “terrorists.”

Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, accused the army of providing “false information.” The group said three people Israel listed as dead were actually still alive.

UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees that ran the school, condemned Israel for striking a facility it said had been housing 6,000 displaced people.

In a post on social media platform X, the agency said the “school turned shelter” had been hit “without prior warning.”

“Targeting UN premises or using for military purposes cannot become the new norm. This must stop and all those responsible be held accountable,” it said.

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using civilian infrastructure, including UN-run facilities, as operational centers — charges the militants deny.

The war, now in its ninth month, has brought widespread devastation to Gaza, with one in 20 people dead or wounded, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. Most of Gaza’s 2.4 million inhabitants are displaced.

This grim reality was underscored by a strike whose aftermath, depicted in an AFP video, saw men salvaging what they could from a bombed-out Gaza City building and carrying away a shrouded body in a debris-strewn alley.

Maher Al-Mughair, who lives nearby, recounted the attack on Friday, saying: “We heard what sounded like a drone firing a missile, followed by another coming from an F-16 fighter jet.

“So we checked and found women and children in pieces. What did the children and women do wrong? They are defenseless people, merely civilians,” he told AFPTV.

In the same city on Saturday, five people were killed and seven wounded when an Israeli warplane bombed the Mhana family’s home in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, Gaza emergency services said.

Elsewhere, medics at Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital said six people were killed and others wounded in an Israeli rocket attack on the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, where witnesses said gunbattles raged.

The Israeli army said it struck “dozens of terrorist cells and infrastructures” in Deir Al-Balah and Bureij in the past day. Troops were also carrying out operations in Rafah.

The war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants from Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 36,731 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is due to address the US Congress next month, also faces pressure from within his right-wing government.

The office of war cabinet member Benny Gantz has announced a news conference for Saturday, the deadline he gave Netanyahu last month to approve a post-war plan for Gaza.

Israeli media have speculated that Gantz, a centrist former military chief who had been one of Netanyahu’s main rivals before joining the war cabinet, was likely to carry through on a threat to resign.

However, any such move is not expected to affect the stability of Netanyahu’s government, a coalition of his right-wing Likud with far-right and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties.

Latest efforts to mediate the first ceasefire in the conflict since a week-long pause in November appear to have stalled a week after US President Joe Biden offered a new roadmap.

Biden, under pressure for the war to end ahead of a November presidential election, said the plan was to halt the fighting for six weeks while hostages are exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

The plan would also involve the stepped-up delivery of aid into Gaza.

The G7 group of world powers, and Arab states, have backed the proposal, with 16 world leaders joining Biden’s call for Hamas to accept the deal.

Hamas has yet to respond to Biden’s proposal. Israel has expressed openness to discussions but remains committed to destroying the Islamist group.