IDF PHOTO GALLERY: Commanders from ‘Operation Arnon’ Recall the Moments of Drama

“I don’t remember such a crazy feeling in the last 8 months. The adrenaline hasn’t gone down yet.”


They waited for the “go” command, not knowing exactly how big the task was. Then, in the crowded streets of the Nuseirat refugee camp, the signal to go was given.

In an extraordinary combination of forces operation, the 7th Israel Defense Forces, paratroopers and Kfir successfully rescued four hostages from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip.

We heard from those who were there about the dramatic moments under fire and the critical cooperation, which led to the long-awaited call in the communication – “the diamonds are in our hands”

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In broad daylight, in the crowded streets in the heart of the Gaza Strip and from two different detection centers – the Shin Bet, IDF and IDF forces went on a daring rescue operation yesterday – “Operation Arnon”.

In the end, Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv , who were kidnapped by Hamas from the ‘Hanuva’ party on October 7, returned home.

But how do you even prepare for an operation of this magnitude? After all, this is a complex operation – the four were found in a civilian and populated neighborhood, in civilian houses in the Nazirat refugee camp, with armed men guarding them at all times.

In order to assemble such a large puzzle of critical details to complete the objective, intensive intelligence gathering over time and preliminary preparations of the forces are required. Due to the sensitivity and security of the information, some practiced special tasks – without knowing what their purpose was.

“Keeping it a secret was one of the most difficult things,” begins the commander of the Givat patrol, Lt. Col. Ziv, “The fighters know they must be alert, sharp and precise – but they don’t know why exactly we are preparing.”

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Givati ​​patrol commander, Lt. Col. Ziv:

“Everything was planned in advance, but it was only on Saturday morning that we were exposed to partial details of what was going to happen,” adds Paratrooper patrol Company Commander in the paratrooper patrol, Major Daniel, “everyone knew what was needed to carry out the mission, and nothing more – to keep About the fighters who are already inside.”

Company Commander in the paratrooper patrol, Major Daniel:

The forces prepared and began to operate even before the operation. “We carried out ambushes, we fired deceiveptive fire, we eliminated terrorists in the area and we trained operatives,” explains the commander of the Kfir Brigade, Major Eliav, “we worked surgically, we worked on the roads around Nuseirat and in the nearby city of Deir al-Balah, so that vehicles could pass easily at the moment of truth.”

An hostages of the Kfir Brigade (in the middle), Major Eliav:

In the last moments before going into action, in real time the KPC examined the intelligence and understood whether it was possible to carry out the plan and return the hostages alive. Only when the conclusion was positive, the order to “act” was given at 11 am, and the fighters raided 2 different buildings at the same time Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv were held together in one of them, and Noa Argamani was alone around them – armed terrorists.

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“Each force had its own mission. Ours – rescue and response to incidents,” recalls Major Daniel, “at first we thought it was a rescue of the forces inside, and later we realized – also of the hostages.”

“We split the unit into three”, the commander of the Givat patrol explains, “we divided the tasks together with the paratrooper patrol, and ran forward to help facilitate the rescue, and to help the YAMAM. This means isolating and removing the threat to them, in the face of terrorists in a cell in a different area than we are familiar with.”

Everything happened under cover of fire from the Air Force, the Southern Command, and from the Navy.

“We got there very quickly, and realized that there was one incident that went smoothly, and another that was more complex,” Major Daniel recalled the dramatic moments, “The special forces rescued Noa Argamani, we met her under fire – and sent her to a more secure point.”

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Indeed, she was directed to the helicopter in a short time, where she took off back to the territory of the country.

The second location, where Almog, Andrei and Shlomi were held, was more complicated. After tense and dramatic moments, the three were also rescued and boarded a helicopter, and in the report the message they wished for throughout the operation: “The diamonds are in our hands.” But during the battles, the commander of the YAMA team who was at the head of the force, the late Commander Arnon Zamora, was wounded by the terrorists’ fire and died afterwards.

“For 8 months the fighters have been working very hard,” describes the commander of the Givat patrol, “we are determined to leave no stone unturned, wherever necessary, to bring our people home. It is a huge privilege to participate in such an operation, and yesterday it was a ‘breath of air’ to continue on and on. I cannot remember such a crazy feeling in the last 8 months, it was something else, the adrenaline still hasn’t subsided.”

“Each of the fighters did their task with unimaginable courage,” he continues, “Comradeship is a word that dwarfs my feeling. That there is someone to trust – and that fills me with pride every time.”

“When you realize that you are a part of it, the feeling is powerful and meaningful. A soldier of mine told me that the first time he cried since the beginning of the war – was when he saw Noa Argamani,” describes the company commander, “in these moments – we all work in cooperation.

You hear the tanks, the planes in the sky and the aid from the sea, and feel a special strength, both from them – and from the entire people of Israel.”

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RELATED ARTICLE: IDF soldiers posed as Hamas terrorists during hostage rescue operation – report

EDITORS NOTE: This Newsrael column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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