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New video shows how raid unfolded; war crimes possibly committed, U.N. says

TEL AVIV —Dramatic new video shows the moment Israeli hostages were rescued from an apartment in central Gaza, a high-risk raid that left a trail of devastation in its wake and raised new doubts about the United States’ push for a cease-fire.

As details emerged from the operation and freed captive Noa Argamani was released from the hospital Tuesday, the United Nations human rights office said that Israeli forces and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes in connection with the weekend raid.

In Israel, Secretary of State Antony Blinken touted positive signs after the U.N. Security Council backed a proposal outlined by President Joe Biden for a truce between Israel and Hamas that would secure the release of hostages still held in the enclave.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reaffirmed his support for this proposal,” Blinken said Tuesday morning after meeting with top Israeli officials. He also welcomed Hamas expressing support for the U.N. resolution as a “hopeful sign.”

Hamas confirmed Tuesday that it had delivered its formal response to Egypt and Qatar, who are mediating negotiations.

The response contained amendments to the Israeli proposal, including a timeline for a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, a source familiar with the situation told NBC News.

Video shows hostage rescue

Officers can be seen racing toward an apartment building in the Nuseirat refugee camp as blasts ring out in the video, which was captured on their helmet cameras and released by the Israel Police on Monday.

After forcing the apartment’s door open, they scan an empty room with flashlights before pushing forward into what appears to be a bedroom, where they find at least two of the hostages rescued on Saturday.

Almog Meir Jan, 21, and Andrey Kozlov, 27, are visible in the video.

Dramatic footage from IDF headcam shows hostage rescue
Israeli forces enter an apartment where hostages were being held in Gaza. via Israel Police
Dramatic footage from IDF headcam shows hostage rescue
Hostages shield their ears during a loud explosion inside the apartment as Israeli forces conduct the operation. via Israel Police

The officers appear to ask the hostages for their names, before Kozlov can be heard shouting back, “Andrey!” as both men raise their hands. Huddling together as fighting appears to break out around them, both Jan and Kozlov appear visibly shaken before the video cuts to their escape from the building in broad daylight.

The two men were among four hostages rescued by Israeli forces and police officers on Saturday, with Argamani, 26, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, also freed from captivity eight months after they were taken hostage into Gaza during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks.

All four were swiftly reunited with their families.

Argamani, whose boyfriend Avinatan Or is believed to remain in Hamas’ custody, was finally able to be with her mother, who has terminal brain cancer. For Jan, the reunion came hours too late, with his own father dying the morning of the 21-year-old’s rescue.

Argamani was released from the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning after undergoing a series of medical tests, the hospital said in a statement. It said Argamani and other relatives would remain nearby, however, to stay close to her mother.

Blinken also met with hostage families during his time in Israel, before heading to Jordan.

Image: Israeli Leaders At Odds Over Gaza Strategy As War Grinds On
Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with families of hostages held in the Gaza Strip during a visit to Tel Aviv on Tuesday.Amir Levy / Getty Images

Biden administration officials have discussed the possibility of negotiating a unilateral deal with Hamas to secure the release of Americans who are believed to remain held hostage in Gaza if current cease-fire talks fail, two current senior U.S. officials and two former senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, had arrived in Israel as a guest of Israeli military Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi to hold on operational assessment discussing regional challenges.

U.N. cites possible war crimes

The rescue operation took a deadly toll on Palestinians sheltering in Nuseirat, with more than 274 people, including dozens of children, killed during the raid, according to local health officials.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari acknowledged there had been fatalities in connection with the operation, saying the IDF believed the death toll was less than 100 people and did not know how many were Hamas fighters.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday it was “profoundly shocked” by the impact on civilians in Nuseirat.

“The manner in which the raid was conducted in such a densely populated area seriously calls into question whether the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution — as set out under the laws of war — were respected by the Israeli forces,” spokesman Jeremy Laurence said.

He said the U.N. was also “deeply distressed” that militant groups continue to hold hostages in Gaza, including in densely populated areas, which he said put “the lives of Palestinian civilians, as well as the hostages themselves, at added risk.”

Laurence added that “all these actions, by both parties, may amount to war crimes.”

Video in the aftermath of the raid showed charred bodies scattered across streets in Nuseirat, while Palestinians could be seen gathering the remains of those killed. Bloodied children could also be seen arriving at a local hospital, already overcrowded with injured patients.

Israel has faced growing outrage and isolation on the international stage as the death toll continues to mount in Gaza, with more than 37,000 people killed, according to the Gaza health ministry, since Israeli forces launched their offensive in the enclave following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, in which around 1,200 were killed and some 250 people were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

More than 100 hostages are thought to remain held captive in Gaza, with at least a quarter of them believed to be dead.

Andrea Mitchell reported from Tel Aviv, and Chantal Da Silva from London.

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