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The Dramatic Israeli Hostage Rescue Mission in Gaza: Inside the Intense Firefight & Heroic Efforts

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The Dramatic Israeli Hostage Rescue Mission in Gaza: Inside the Intense Firefight & Heroic Efforts

Edited by: Fern Sidman
In a daring and meticulously planned operation reminiscent of a spy thriller, undercover Israeli agents, including women disguised in traditional Palestinian attire, infiltrated a Gaza neighborhood to gather intelligence for a high-stakes rescue mission, as was reported on Thursday in The New York Post. According to a report by the Jewish Chronicle, these agents played a crucial role in the dramatic rescue of four hostages from the heart of Gaza on Saturday.
Disguised as wealthy Gaza families displaced by the ongoing conflict in Rafah, Israeli spies, both men and women, rented a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Their mission was to confirm the presence of 26-year-old Noa Argamani and three men held captive in the area. The Post report indicated that to blend in, the agents wore traditional Palestinian clothing, including black dresses and hijabs for the women, and adopted Gazan Arabic accents.
One group of undercover agents walked past the building where Argamani was believed to be held, using their disguise to avoid arousing suspicion. Meanwhile, another team secretly scouted the nearby location where Almog Meir Jan, 26, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, were reportedly detained.
Over the course of several days, the spies acclimated to the area and gathered crucial intelligence about the hostages’ locations, as per The Post report.  This information was vital for the success of the rescue mission. The agents confirmed the hostages’ presence, setting the stage for the next phase of the operation.

Once the hostages’ locations were verified, 28 commandos from the elite Yamam police counter-terrorism unit began intensive training for the rescue mission. Using two custom-built models that replicated the buildings where the hostages were held, the commandos rehearsed the operation meticulously, according to the information provided in The Post report. These models allowed the team to familiarize themselves with the layout and potential challenges of the actual sites.
On the night of June 5, most of the undercover agents withdrew from the area to minimize the risk of detection and to pave the way for the commandos. The following day, the rescue mission commenced.
The operation unfolded in two parts. First, the commandos successfully rescued Noa Argamani from her location. According to The Post report, the terrorists guarding her were neutralized, and Argamani was quickly evacuated and flown back to Israel by helicopter. This part of the mission went smoothly, demonstrating the effectiveness of the intelligence gathered and the precision of the commandos’ execution.
However, the rescue of the three men from the separate building encountered complications. Details of these complications were not fully disclosed, but they highlighted the inherent risks and unpredictability of such high-stakes operations, as per the information contained in The Post report. Despite the challenges, the operation’s primary objective—to save the hostages—was largely achieved.
The operation, involving elite Yamam police counter-terrorism units, highlighted both the risks and the heroism inherent in such high-stakes rescues.
The commandos used a ladder to access the exact room where the hostages were being held. However, they were met with unexpected resistance. The report in The Post said that approximately 30 Hamas terrorists armed with machine guns and grenades, were inside the building and immediately opened fire, catching the Israeli forces off-guard.
A massive firefight erupted, with bullets and grenades flying in all directions. During the chaos, the three hostages were quickly moved to a bathroom for protection. The intense battle called attention to the volatile and unpredictable nature of rescue operations in hostile environments.
Amidst the fierce combat, Yamam commander Arnon Zamora, 36, was fatally wounded. His leadership and bravery were pivotal in the operation, and his loss was deeply felt by the entire unit. The Post report added that Zamora’s actions exemplified the courage and dedication of the Israeli commandos, who continued the mission despite the heavy resistance and significant personal risk.
As the commandos began to escort the hostages out of the building, the situation escalated further. The Post report noted that more Hamas terrorists emerged, armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, and launched a renewed assault on the rescue team.
Israeli reinforcements from ground, air, and sea quickly responded to the escalating conflict. Hundreds of soldiers engaged in close-quarter battles with Hamas terrorists, providing crucial support to the commandos and ensuring the safe evacuation of the hostages, as was described in The Post report.  The reinforcements’ timely arrival and overwhelming firepower played a critical role in the success of the mission.
The Hamas-backed Gaza health ministry reported that 274 Palestinians were killed during the operation, though it did not specify how many of those were Hamas terrorists, the report in The Post added. The high casualty count sheds light on the ferocity of the battle and the complex environment in which the rescue was conducted.

HOW IT UNFOLDED: In the heart of the Nuseirat refugee camp, after 8 months and one day in captivity in Gaza, one of the boldest operations since the war began took place. Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Shlomi Ziv and Andrey Kozlov, who were abducted from the Nova music festival on October 7, were rescued in Operation Arnon, named after Yamam commando Arnon Zamora, who was killed during the operation.
– Here is a minute-by-minute account of the mission.
– Thursday, 6:30 PM: Following weeks of meticulous planning, drills and advanced intelligence tracking, the political echelon approved the operation initially dubbed Summer Seeds. The green light was given during a classified discussion, with details heavily compartmentalized, as they awaited the opportune moment to act.
– Saturday, 10:00 AM: Two main strike teams, disguised as Arabs, launched from several directions toward the Nuseirat refugee camp near the coast. Moving stealthily in broad daylight, the forces approached the two buildings where the hostages were held, unnoticed by thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of local Hamas terrorists.
– According to Palestinian sources, the forces entered using a humanitarian aid truck, and Al Jazeera aired footage purportedly showing IDF vehicles from the moments following the operation. The IDF denied this, as well as any use of the American pier.
– 10:45 AM: Special ground surveillance and airborne technological tracking confirmed the area was clear, with no suspicious movement detected in the two buildings, each 3-4 stories high. Noa Argamani was held in one building, while the other three hostages were in the second building, along with Gazan families and armed guards.
– 10:50 AM: Live information and footage of the alleys, spanning hundreds of meters between the two targets, were transmitted to screens in the two command centers overseeing the operation: the Shin Bet’s central command, attended by service head Ronen Bar and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, and the Southern Command in Be’er Sheva, where the regional commander directed the surrounding forces and the rescue operation.
– 11:00 AM: The two ground teams receive the go-ahead command, personally approved in real-time by the Shin Bet head and IDF chief. They storm the buildings simultaneously to prevent the terrorists in the second target from discovering the operation and endangering the hostages.
– 11:10 AM: While the elimination of the guards and the rescue of Argamani proceed relatively smoothly, the operation in the second building encounters significant complications. Chief Inspector Zamora’s team reports casualties during the firefight. After neutralizing the terrorists, the commandos tend to their wounded commander and attempt to evacuate him under heavy gunfire.
– 11:15 AM: The eagerly awaited message is relayed over the radio: “The diamonds are in our hands,” indicating the hostages are secured.
– 11:20 AM: Amid the delay, dozens of terrorists gather around the building where the three hostages were held, with hundreds more armed with RPGs, PK machine gun, and AK-47 rifles approaching from all directions. They navigate through the narrow alleys and the nearby market, crowded with thousands of Gazans.
– 11:22 AM: The forces attempt to escape in the rescue vehicle, but it is hit by heavy fire and begins to falter. In response, Southern Command chief Yaron Finkelman activates a pre-planned extraction strategy.
– 11:25 AM: Air Force fighter jets and helicopters fire dozens of munitions at the terrorists to isolate the area. Hundreds of reinforcements from the 7th Armored Brigade, Paratroopers, Givati and Kfir brigades, mobilized as backup, are deployed on foot, in tanks and Namer APCs into the refugee camp, with Navy vessels providing cover from the west.
– 11:30 AM: Reinforcement troops and the Air Force successfully isolate the main combat zone, securing a safe escape route for the main force with the three hostages. In a rare move, Southern Command authorizes Air Force Sikorsky helicopters to land deep within the Gaza Strip for extraction, under the cover of fighter jet fire. Aerial strikes target terrorists just a few dozen yards away from the soldiers.
– 11:50 AM: The last special forces operatives board the helicopters, which take off for hospitals in Israel. Despite continued efforts to resuscitate Chief Inspector Zamora during the flight, he is pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Reinforcement troops from IDF brigades maintain engagement with terrorists on the operation’s perimeter, eliminating dozens more until the mission concludes.
– 1:33 PM: The IDF, Shin Bet and police officially announce the rescue of the four hostages. The above is via Ynet.

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