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Arnon Zamora, the hero who lost his life rescuing 4 hostages – ‘Happy is the people that is blessed with heroes’

'Long before he was a warrior and hero he was a sweet man,' says his wife Michal

Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, who was killed by Hamas in a mission to rescue 4 Israeli hostages from the Gaza Strip, On June 8, 2024 (Photo: Israel Police, social-media).

“Everything is now filled with the image of the late hero, Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora. But long before he was a warrior and hero he was a sweet man. An amazing partner, and a perfect father. A loving and beloved man. That’s how we’ll remember him, and I’d love for you to do the same.”

One day after his tragic death, Michal, the wife of Zamora and mother of their two children, called on the Israelis to remember her late husband as more than just a warrior hero.

Zamora was tragically killed while leading a team of Yamam commando fighters during the operation to rescue four Israeli hostages from the clutches of Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

“My brother-in-law was a true hero, a warrior who saved lives with his bare hands many times. Then he would come to our house, and we would talk about ordinary stuff and laugh, and he would scold me for being addicted to my phone when we were together, all that kind of stuff,” wrote his sister-in-law Yael Bronstein.

“Arnon was a man with a huge heart, so sensitive and loving. He really was an emotional person, pure gold. A sweet father, an amazing partner to my sister.”

Zamora was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s military cemetery on Mount Herzl on Sunday, accompanied by thousands of mourners.

“Arnon was always first and, during the heroic operation he led, he acted with courage and was a model for his fighters,” said the head of the Yamam counter-terror commando in his eulogy for Zamora.

“His actions brought light to the people of Israel and unfortunately he paid for it with his life. Instead of being part of the national jubilation, we are going into deep mourning.”

The uncle of Almog Jan, one of the rescued hostages, thanked Zamora’s family, “The blood of your children is mixed with ours. This is an unbreakable bond.”

Zamora’s mother Ruti said that growing up, her son had looked up to Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu, the older brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yoni lost his life leading the legendary Entebbe raid in 1976 that saved 100 Israeli hostages.

“My beloved child,” Ruti continued, “I am so happy that last Friday I was able to tell you: ‘Arnon, take care of yourself and your friends. I love you.’ You answered me: ‘Mom, I love you too’.”

Michal spoke last and reiterated that she would remember Arnon as a loving husband and father, asking everyone to do so as well.

“It’s important that these things be said last, after the stories of heroism. That’s what will resonate from you.”

“We raised two wonderful children together, my love, whose worlds fell apart in an instant. I am enveloping them and protecting them. I know you know that, and I also know that you thought about us in the split second when you realized that death was coming.”

“In the end, the children and I will be fine. They will know how much of a hero their father was, and how many lives he saved… but much more than that, they will remember how much fun they had with you. Riding bikes, playing the guitar, lighting a bonfire, eating ice cream, having fun together, and being a family,” she said.

Netanyahu eulogized Zamora during a government meeting, recounting a story about him as shared by former IDF soldier Amir Ofer, widely published on Israeli social media over the past few days.

“Amir Ofer was under the command of my brother Yoni, of blessed memory, who fell in the operation to free the hostages at Entebbe in 1976… Here is what he wrote yesterday about Arnon,” Netanyahu said, reading Ofer’s story.

“Several years ago I was at a performance. An amazing young man approached me and said that he was an officer in the special anti-terrorism unit, he asked me to come to the unit and lecture on Entebbe. Of course, I agreed.”

Several days after Oct. 7 and the following days of battle to beat back the Hamas invasion, Zamora again reached out to Ofer.

“This was Arnon’s first break from the fighting in Gaza since the start of the war. We spoke for two hours. He told me in great detail how he and his friends were in an encounter at Yad Mordechai Junction, how three RPGs missed them by millimeters, how his intuition to stop several kilometers before the junction and gear up saved the entire force, how they fought like lions, how they emptied all of their clips four times on the first day and went from the junction to Sderot, and from Sderot to Ofakim, and from Ofakim to Be’eri, and they were at the forefront everywhere.”

“Arnon told me how his heart broke at Be’eri. He constantly asked me, ‘How did you succeed and we did not.’ I saw before me a true hero, an exceptional and moral person.”

“I thought about Arnon’s story and I wrote him: ‘It took me several hours to digest your story. You were real heroes and your performance – under the most difficult conditions – was extraordinary, in strategic surprise, in tactical surprise, in combat in an area full of civilians, and in being few against many.’”

Kibbutz Yad Mordechai paid a special tribute to Zamora, who had led the team that saved their town.

“Arnon is the commander of the IDF team that fought at the Yad Mordechai junction on October 7 and prevented an assault on the standby unit of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. In the defense of the kibbutz, he and his team killed 37 Nukbha terrorists who broke into the country.”

Later on Sunday, the Israeli government announced it had approved “the proposal of the IDF General Staff to name the operation to rescue the hostages in the Gaza Strip that took place yesterday (Saturday, 8 June 2024), ‘Operation Arnon’ after the hero of Israel who fell in battle, special anti-terrorism unit fighter Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, of blessed memory.”

“On Simchat Torah, Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora showed exceptional heroism,” Netanyahu stated.

“Yesterday, on the eve of the giving of the Torah, he again showed supreme heroism and gave his life to save members of his people. Arnon will always be remembered in the chronicles of our people. Happy is the people that is blessed with its heroes.”

Arnon Zamora was reported to be the 11th casualty of the elite counter-terrorism unit Yamam since the war began on Oct. 7.

That day, nine fighters were killed during the battle to stop the Hamas invasion from reaching even deeper into the State of Israel.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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