IDF Renames Hostage Rescue Mission in Honor of Fallen Counter-Terrorism Commander

IDF Renames Hostage Rescue Mission in Honor of Fallen Counter-Terrorism Commander
Posters that read 'Home Now' depicting the portraits of the four rescued Israeli hostages from left: Andrey Kozlov, 27, Noa Argamani, 26, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Almog Meir Jan, 22, are plastered on a wall in Tel Aviv on June 8, 2024. (GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel has renamed its June 8 hostage rescue operation after the fallen commander of the National Police Counter-Terrorism Unit, who lost his life during the mission of rescuing Israeli hostages held in Gaza by the terrorist group Hamas.

Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, of the Sde David moshav in southern Israel, was a commander and tactical operator in the Counter-Terrorism Unit (Yamam). The 36-year-old leaves behind his parents, wife and two children, and his siblings.

“Everything is now filled with the image of the hero Arnon Zamora. Long before he was a warrior and hero, he was a sweet and wonderful man. An amazing spouse, a perfect dad. A loving and beloved man. This is how we will remember him, and I would be happy if you do too,” his widow Michal posted on Facebook in honor of her husband.

Mr. Zamora sustained fatal injuries as he and his team came under Hamas fire when breaking into the house where three male hostages were being held.

The rescue operation he commanded successfully rescued four hostages from two separate Hamas locations within the U.N.’s long-established, built-up Nuseirat Palestinian refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

NTD Photo
Palestinians inspect the damage and debris a day after a hostage rescue operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on June 9, 2024. (Eyad BABA/AFP)

However, the Israeli soldiers had to call in heavy airstrikes to cover their evacuation after their vehicle carrying the three male hostages got stuck in the camp, and terrorists armed with machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on them.

Tragically, many Gazan civilians were killed or injured as a result. According to the Hamas-run media office of Gaza, at least 210 Gazans were killed and more than 400 others injured by either Israeli or Hamas crossfire and the Israeli airstrikes.

Mr. Zamora’s death has brought the total death toll of Israeli troops since Israel began its ground operation on Oct. 27 last year to nearly 300. The total death toll of Israeli troops since the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas stands at nearly 650.

‘Operation Arnon’

The most recent rescue operation, which was originally codenamed “Seeds of Summer,” has now been renamed “Operation Arnon,” in recognition of the Yamam squad commander and his unit’s performance, the IDF said.

Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, were rescued on June 8 after spending eight months in captivity since they were abducted by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, at the Supernova music festival, one of the sites targeted by the massacre.

The rescued hostages were unharmed and were taken to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan for recovery. Over 100 hostages still remain in Hamas captivity.

In a post on X, Israeli President Isaac Herzog praised Mr. Zamora’s bravery, noting that he “was one of the first fighters” on the scene in southern Israel, “who fought bravely” against the terrorists.

“On behalf of the entire nation—I mourn his fall, share in his family’s grief and send my condolences to his wife and children. I pray for the speedy return of the abductees and all the security forces to their homes quickly and safely,” Mr. Herzog wrote.

Other government figures also praised Mr. Zamora on the social media platform.

“I salute Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, Commander in the elite Yamam Unit, who fell while leading a daring operation to rescue 4 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. He lived and fell a hero,” posted Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

“Arnon was a brave warrior who impressed everyone who met him with his love of Israel and his devotion,” according to a post by Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Mr. Zamora’s death was also mourned by The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents the families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

“The Families Forum bows its head in deep sorrow over the death of Commander Arnon Zamora, of blessed memory, who died of wounds sustained during the heroic rescue operation of Noa Argamani, Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, and Almog Meir Jan,” the organization posted.

Israel’s military referred to Mr. Zamora as a “hero of Israel, a lover of the land, and a protector.”

“The IDF bows its head following the fall of the late Commander Arnon Zamora, a team commander in the National Counter-Terrorism Unit (NCTU) of the Israel Police,” the military said in a statement. “The IDF salutes his memory.”

The Israel Police also released a statement. “The Israel Police salute our nation’s hero and will continue standing by the bereaved family through this challenging time. May his memory be blessed,” they said.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also eulogized Mr. Zamora on June 9 ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting, “The great achievement yesterday reflects the stature of the people, and I must say, it reflects the stature of the supporters of Israel around the entire world. However, it also entailed great sadness: The loss of a hero of Israel, special anti-terrorism unit fighter, Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, of blessed memory.”

NTD Photo
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives at the District Court in Jerusalem, Israel on June 25, 2023. (Atef Safadi/Pool Photo via AP)

Mr. Netanyahu also lost a family member to Israel’s ongoing fight against terrorists. His brother, Yonatan Netanyahu, was killed leading a 1976 hostage rescue mission in response to the hijacking of a passenger plane by Palestinian and German terrorists called the Entebbe raid.

“Arnon will forever be remembered in the history of our people,” Mr. Netanyahu said. “Just like the [Yitzhak] Rabin government supported the proposal to call the operation to free the hostage in Entebbe ‘Operation Yonatan,’ after the commander of the assault force who fell in battle, I am sure that our government also unanimously supports the proposal to name the operation to free the hostages in Gaza ‘Operation Arnon’ after the commander of the force who fell in battle—the hero of Israel Arnon Zmora.”

Mr. Zamora’s funeral was held on the afternoon of June 9 in the police section of Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem. Thousands attended the commemoration to mourn and pay their respects to the fallen officer and his family.

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