Israeli special forces have rescued four hostages who had been kidnapped from the Nova music festival on 7 October and held in Gaza for eight months.

The daytime operation in central Nuseirat freed Noa Argamani, 25, who was being held in one location, and three men – Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40 – who were found in a second place.

Argamani’s mother has stage 4 cancer and has said her greatest wish was to see her daughter again. The two are expected to be reunited soon.

Israeli authorities released images of a smiling Argamani greeting her father and said she had spoken on the phone to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and president, Isaac Herzog.

Noa Argamani is reunited with her father. Photograph: Screengrab

The IDF spokesperson R Adm Daniel Hagari said all four of the freed hostages were healthy and were undergoing medical tests in an Israeli hospital where they would be reunited with their families.

“The four were rescued in a daring daylight rescue operation during which IDF and Shin Bet fighters raided the heart of the Gaza Strip and rescued them under fire,” he said. One police special forces operative was seriously injured in the operation.

There was heavy fighting in the area on Saturday, with at least 50 people killed, including children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Saturday’s operation, the first successful military mission to free hostages since February, brings the number of hostages rescued by the Israeli military to seven. There are still 120 hostages in the Gaza Strip, a third of whom are believed to have died.

People wave Israeli flags and celebrate the hostages’ rescue outside Tel HaShomer hospital in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

Palestinian militants took 250 people as hostages on 7 October. The vast majority of those who have returned to Israel came back last November under a deal for a temporary ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

There has been increasing pressure on the Israeli government to agree another ceasefire, including from the families of those still held, who will make a statement and hold a demonstration on Saturday evening.

The US has also been pushing hard for a deal but Netanyahu’s government has long insisted that military force is the best way to ensure the return of the hostages. Saturday’s rescue operation may give him a temporary boost in efforts to resist the domestic and international pressure to halt the fighting.

After the news broke, his political rival Benny Gantz, a security cabinet member, delayed a speech planned for Saturday evening. He had been widely expected to announce he was leaving the government, having given Netanyahu an ultimatum to form a long-term plan for Gaza.