This was the rescue of four Israeli hostages that left 274 Palestinians dead

This was the rescue of four Israeli hostages that left 274 Palestinians dead
This was the rescue of four Israeli hostages that left 274 Palestinians dead

Operation “Arnon”, which had American logistical and intelligence help, was prepared for weeks and was about to fail when one of its operatives was discovered.

While the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is on his eighth trip to the region since the outbreak of the war with the intention of relaunching the ceasefire negotiations, Israeli television broadcasts details – rarely distributed by the Israeli Army ( IDF) – of the complex operation that led to the release of Noa Argamani (26), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27) and Shlomi Ziv (40), four of the around 250 hostages taken by Hamas during the attacks on October 7.

In the last video, edited by the IDF to camouflage the details of the operation, you can see the moment in which members of the anti-terrorist unit of the National Police (Yamam), in coordination with the internal intelligence service (Shabak) and the Army, break into the room where three of the kidnapped people were located, located in a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp, in the center of the Gaza Strip. The only woman among those released, Noa Argamani, was about 200 meters away, alone and on the first floor of another nearby home. “The first mission was to gather intelligence, the second to approach the objective, the third to find the building and the fourth to evacuate,” David Tsur, retired general and former commander of the Yamam unit, explains to elDiario.es.

Camouflaged and in broad daylight

According to the Israeli soldier, it was “an operation prepared for weeks, complicated, in broad daylight and where the units (two) had to act camouflaged and simultaneously to avoid being discovered.” However, one of them, the one intended to free the three male hostages, was detected. “There were shootings from nearby buildings and at the exit they were shot with grenade launchers. The two vehicles were hit and were trapped in a hostile area with a lot of people running towards them. That’s when the air force created a wall of fire to protect them, shooting at anyone who approached, creating a corridor so that other vehicles could pick them up and get out of there,” explains Tsur.

A corridor that the Army opened with blood and fire, taking with it the lives of at least 274 Palestinians – among them 64 minors, 57 women and 37 adults, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health – and injuring 700 more. The Israeli Army reduced the number of fatalities to one hundred on Sunday, although an Army spokesman, Peter Lerner, stated during an interview on the North American network ABC that they did not know how many victims there were in the attack during the operation.

In the operation, which used a vehicle similar to those used by Israel to transport commercial goods to Gaza, the Israeli officer who led it, Chief Inspector Arnón Zamora, also died, while with the first unit, responsible for freeing the Israeli Noa Argamani, “everything was more fluid,” says David Tsur.

In this second case, the IDF used a white Mercedes van, full of furniture and other belongings to pass its occupants off as members of displaced families, as seen in the images. The agents removed at least one ladder from the vehicle to access the first floor, where Israeli, American and British intelligence analysts – the last two have been installed in Israel since October – located Argamani’s last position, which was moved several times from from point to point in Gaza in his almost 250 days of captivity. “A rich family from the Strip was in charge of her. They were members of Hamas or related to them. All of them, all 4, died,” says the former commander.

Other Palestinian witnesses describe that the members of the second operation arrived disguised as militiamen from the Ezedin Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. “I saw militiamen wearing resistance uniforms, as well as helmets and patches that identified them, but in reality they were part of an Israeli covert unit,” declared a resident of the Nuseirat camp.

In short, a textbook anti-terrorist operation and not exempt from criticism. The first, due to the use of civilian vehicles. The second, because it was carried out at 11 noon, with the streets crowded with people, with massive artillery fire and bombardments as cover, which multiplied the number of Palestinian civilian casualties, whose lifeless bodies overflowed the hospitals of Al Aqsa, in the center of Gaza, near the Nuseirat camp, and Al Awda, in the north of the Strip.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, denounced on his X account, formerly Twitter, how “these deadly scenes in Nuseirat emphasize the growing horror of the war, which places this refugee camp at the epicenter of the tragedy that the Gaza Strip is suffering.” “All civilians must be protected, so that this collective agony ends right now,” added the director of the UN Humanitarian Aid Office (OCHA).

The UN Human Rights Office pointed out this Tuesday that the deaths of civilians in Gaza during the Israeli operation may amount to war crimes, as does holding hostages in densely populated areas.

Israeli hostages and Palestinian deaths

There are still 120 hostages in the Gaza Strip (four of them – two Israeli civilians captured in 2014 and 2015 and two other soldiers who fell in the 2014 war – predate the October 7 attacks).

Aware of the difficulty of carrying out this type of covert operations – in 8 months of war only 3 have ended successfully – US diplomacy continues to pressure the parties to reach a truce agreement that includes an exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, as already took place last November during a temporary ceasefire.

To do this, President Joe Biden has sent his Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a regional tour. After a brief stay in Cairo, Blinken stopped in Israel with a multiple agenda, coinciding with the increase in tension with the Shiite guerrilla Hezbollah and the resignation of the ministers of the National Unity Party Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, which allows us to predict a greater radicalization of the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blinken arrived this Wednesday in Amman, where, at the request of Jordan, Egypt and the UN, the first conference to support the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is being held, in which the head of the Spanish Executive also participated. Like other world leaders, Pedro Sánchez urged Hamas and Israel to take advantage of “the new opportunity” offered by the three-phase peace plan presented by the Biden administration and which was supported this week in the last vote carried out in the Council of United Nations Security.

A “successful operation” for the Jewish State; “the worst massacre of civilians Gaza has seen since October” for the Palestinians in the Strip.


 
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