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UK and US assisted with intelligence for hostage rescue in 'most difficult of military operations'

Israeli special forces land after rescuing hostages in Gaza, June 8, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

According to a joint U.S.-Israeli news report, the United Kingdom and the United States have been able to assist Israel with specific intelligence on the whereabouts of Noa Argamani (25) Almog Meir Jan (21) Andrey Kozlov (27) and Shlomi Ziv (40) rescued just over a week ago.

To the immense relief of the entire population of Israel, the news of the rescue of four hostages – alive – filtered through on the Sabbath of June 8, followed by tears of joy, celebrations in the streets and megaphone announcements on beaches.

Intelligence collection and analysis teams, from both the US and the UK, have been in Israel throughout the war, assisting Israeli teams in collecting and analyzing information related to the hostages, according to a New York Times (NYT) report on the day of the rescue mission.

A day later, a senior Israeli official told the NYT and Ynet’s Ronen Bergman, that British and American drones can provide information that Israel’s drones are unable to collect.

While U.S. surveillance drones mostly have the same sensors as British and Israeli ones, according to U.S. officials, large numbers of American aircraft can cover more territory more frequently, and for longer periods.

With the help of captured documents, the interrogations of detained terrorists, and American and British assistance, Israeli intelligence has improved, the latest report stated. It is believed that some of the hostages are possibly being moved more frequently now than at the beginning of the war.

To begin with, the IDF believed most of the hostages were being held in the vast network of subterranean tunnels but it became easier for Hamas terrorists to embed hostages within the homes of their operatives, hence the rescue of the four from two different homes.

“In this case, hostages were rescued from two separate locations, which is incredibly impressive given the necessity to coordinate them so precisely, to avoid terrorists in one location being so that one assault does not trigger a reaction from terrorists in the other,” former Commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, Colonel (Ret.) Richard Kemp told Israel National News (Arutz 7).

“This was an extremely significant event in this war,” Kemp continued. “Successful hostage rescue in a hostile environment is probably the most difficult of military operations. I have been involved in the rescue of British hostages in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is rare for them to succeed. There are two prerequisites that are both extremely hard to achieve.

“First, you must have pinpoint intelligence to tell you exactly where the hostages are being held and in what conditions, including who and how many are guarding them. Second, you must be able to achieve surprise, in other words, to launch the operation without prior detection. Bearing in mind it is likely that hostages will have a gun to their heads and any warning that a rescue is coming will likely see them killed immediately. Terrorists will also often be expecting a rescue and will prepare to kill the rescuers, for example by booby traps, snipers, etc.,” Kemp explained.

“I have the utmost admiration for those soldiers, police, and intelligence officers who carried out this operation. Each one of them knew well the lethal dangers they faced, which has been tragically shown by the death of Yamam Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora.”

The special anti-terrorism unit fighter was tragically killed while leading a team of Yamam commando fighters during the rescue mission. The Israeli government approved a proposal by the IDF chief, to change the name of the operation to ‘Operation Arnon’.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled his brother during his remarks on June 9.

“Similar to the Rabin government’s support for the proposal to name the operation to free the hostages at Entebbe – ‘Operation Yonatan’, after the commander of the assault force who fell in battle, I am certain that the Government will unanimously support the proposal to name the operation to free the hostages in Gaza – ‘Operation Arnon’ – after the commander of the assault force who fell in battle – hero of Israel Arnon Zamora.”

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

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