All Israel
hostage rescue

'Operation Arnon': All the details about the heroic operation that freed 4 Israeli hostages from the heart of Gaza

Hundreds of Israeli Navy, Air Force, ground and commando forces were involved

Israeli hostages Almog Meir Jan and Andrey Kozlov land in Israel after being rescued from Gaza by the special forces (Photo: IDF)

After the dramatic announcement that four Israeli hostages were freed from the clutches of the Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces censor allowed the gradual release of many details regarding the heroic operation.

After first being called “Seeds of Summer,” the IDF later said that the mission would be known as “Operation Arnon,” in honor of the late Arnon Zamora, a soldier in the police commando Yamam, who died of wounds sustained during the rescue mission.

Israel’s intelligence services had prepared the operation for weeks, carrying out specific raids to raise more intelligence regarding the exact location of the four hostages in the heart of the populated Nuseirat camp, an area not evacuated of its residents.

Israeli forces trained for multiple scenarios and the IDF Intelligence Branch reportedly developed new technological tools, specifically designed to assist the troops during the operation.

The final plan was approved by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday evening, local Channel 13 news reported.

The details, including the risks and broader implications, were presented to the political echelon by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar, who later commanded the operation together from the Shin Bet headquarters.

On Saturday morning, Netanyahu had reportedly arrived at the headquarters and followed the operation with the heads of Israel’s security services.

“There was enormous tension both before and during the event,” an official who was present told Channel 13.

“There were difficult risks, and even after the Prime Minister and Shin Bet approved the raid, it was clear that this was a complex and challenging operation,” he added.

The operation hung in the balance all morning until, finally, the prime minister gave the go-ahead at 11 a.m. This time was chosen by Shin Bet to maximize the element of surprise, as similar operations usually take place at night.

“I approved the operation without hesitation despite the risks. I trust the IDF, the Shin Bet, the Israel Police, and the heroic warriors,” Netanyahu stated later.

The operational spearhead was led by the Shin Bet Commando and the Israel Police's elite Yamam unit, both highly respected commandos specialized in hostage rescue operations.

The forces were supported by hundreds of IDF soldiers of the 98th Division – including the Navy Commando Shayetet 13 and the Paratrooper, Kfir and 7th Armored Brigades – and accompanied by supportive fire from the Israeli Navy and Air Force (IAF).

Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrei Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (40) were held above ground, in two buildings around 200 meters (about 650 feet) apart from each other in a crowded residential area.

They were only lightly guarded by several Hamas operatives and kept in assigned rooms in private apartments, with Noa Argamani being held separately from the three men.

The rescue mission began in the two buildings at the same time to prevent the terrorists from detecting the Israeli forces and killing the hostages.

While the raid to rescue Argamani succeeded without interruption and with all the terrorists being quickly eliminated, in the apartment where the three male hostages were kept, a difficult and complex gun battle erupted.

During the fire exchanges, the leader of the force, Arnon Zamora, was mortally wounded by terrorist fire after showing exceptional bravery, according to Army Radio.

Each stage of the operation was accompanied by withering gun and RPG fire from surrounding buildings and alleys in the crowded civilian area, leading to many casualties among terrorists and civilians.

During the hour-long extraction phase, one of the rescue vehicles came under heavy fire and got stuck. The IAF had to launch heavy suppressing fire from the air before a reserve force comprising several battalions of the 98th Division moved into action, creating a fire corridor to rescue the hostages and the troops.

The 98th Division had only begun operating in the nearby camps of al-Bureij and Deir al-Balah several days ago. Army Radio now reported that the main objective of their secret operations in the area was to create the conditions preparing and enabling the daring rescue mission.

After the successful extraction, IAF helicopters arrived at the coast to carry the troops and the hostages to safety. Despite heavy fire targeting the helicopters, including surface-to-air missiles, they managed to evade and reach Israeli territory.

The IDF said that several soldiers were lightly wounded by shrapnel during the fire exchanges. The rescued hostages were immediately dressed in protective vests during the extraction.

On the Palestinian side, Al Jazeera cited reports claiming that over 200 were killed and more than 400 people were wounded during the raid.

Palestinians later published images of the area of the battle in Nuseirat, showing fires and destroyed buildings.

On Saturday evening, the Shin Bet published images of the operation room with the faces of its operatives blurred for security reasons. “Andrei, Almog, Shlomi and Noa, we won’t be able to show you all our people, but know that thanks to them, you are home,” the Shin Bet wrote.

“This is one of the most impressive, heroic operations I have seen throughout my 47 years in the security establishment,” Gallant stated upon returning from the Shin Bet headquarters.

“The forces of the IDF, the IDF, and the Shin Bet carried out an operation that cannot be surpassed: Boldness, brilliant planning, execution that cannot be surpassed, courage and determination, and all this in close cooperation between all the branches of the security system,” the defense minister continued.

“I don’t remember comparable feats we did, with this strength and cooperation and with this success. This is the time to thank those who lead the security system in the IDF, the Shin Bet and the Yamam.”

“The release of the abductees is not only an impressive operational success by any measure, but also an opportunity to realize the goals of the war,” Gallant said.

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

All Israel
Receive latest news & updates
    A message from All Israel News
    Help us educate Christians on a daily basis about what is happening in Israel & the Middle East and why it matters.
    For as little as $5, you can support ALL ISRAEL NEWS, a non-profit media organization that is supported by readers like you.
    Donate to ALL ISRAEL NEWS
    Popular Articles
    Latest Stories