Ori Megidish, an IDF soldier herself, was held hostage in Gaza for more than three weeks. In a post to X, formerly known as Twitter, Israeli officials said she was found to be in good health after undergoing a medical examination.
The IDF released a photo of Megidish smiling alongside four relatives and wearing a Spider-Man-themed Marvel shirt. Videos shared by local media showed dozens of her family members celebrating in her hometown of Kiryat Gat, cheering as they waved Israeli flags.
The Times of Israel reported that Megidish, a private who had served as an “observation soldier,” was captured during Hamas’ raid of Israel’s Nahal Oz base. She had likely been held alone by Hamas and a mission to bring her home had been planned for “several” days, the outlet reported. Israeli forces were reportedly met with resistance from Hamas, but no troops were injured or killed.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the rescue mission a “daring operation.”
“I was moved to see the soldier Ori Megidish return home to her loving family after a daring operation by the IDF and Shin Bet,” he wrote in a post on social media. “Our security forces operate around the clock in Gaza, in the north, in Judea and Samaria, and everywhere, on land, in the air, and at sea.”
News of Megidish’s release came hours after Hamas released a video of three female hostages, one of whom grilled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not negotiating a prisoner swap.
Netanyahu’s office called the video “cruel psychological propaganda,” suggesting the woman was forced to speak on camera and told what to say. In a subsequent press conference, he emphasized that a ground operation was the only way to bring hostages home and put Hamas “under pressure.”
Israeli officials say more than 200 hostages remain in Gaza.
“We’re committed to getting all of the hostages back home,” Netanyahu said. “We think that this method stands a chance.”
Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Monday’s operation to rescue Megidish proved Israel is capable of rescuing hostages, though he conceded each mission is “not easy.”
“This is further proof of our ability to reach the hostages, the importance of the ground operation, and above all our commitment to each and every one of the hostages,” he said.
Megidish’s release comes three days after Israel announced it would be “expanding” its ground operation in Gaza. Fighting occurred throughout the weekend, with the IDF identifying three slain Israeli officers on Monday: Lt. Col. Meidan Israel, 35; Maj. Yair Zloof, 32; and Lt. (res.) Maor Refael Shalom.
Casualties in Gaza have been far more significant, with Palestinian authorities saying Monday that the death toll has soared past 8,000 amid a daily barrage of Israeli airstrikes.
🚨 BREAKING: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: “Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11. Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October… pic.twitter.com/60DGprRdZs
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) October 30, 2023
Netanyahu indicated in Monday’s press conference that Israel’s attacks in Gaza won’t be slowing down. He scoffed at growing international calls for a ceasefire, likening Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
“Calls for a ceasefire are a call for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism,” he said. “That will not happen.”