June 9, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Gantz resigns from Israeli war cabinet following rescue of four hostages in Gaza raid

June 9, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Gantz resigns from Israeli war cabinet following rescue of four hostages in Gaza raid

Israel rescued four hostages in a raid on the central Gaza town of Nuseirat on June 8. The operation began the morning of June 8 and targeted two buildings where Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv were being held. The rescue was the third rescue of living hostages in Gaza since the war began. Hamas and other terrorist groups kidnapped more than 250 people during its attack on October 7 last year. The four hostages rescued in Nuseirat had been kidnapped from the Nova music festival in Israel. Argamani’s October 7 kidnapping on a motorcycle was captured in a video that circulated widely.

An IDF female observer, Ori Megidish, was rescued on October 30. She was rescued three days after Israel launched a ground offensive. Two more hostages were rescued in a raid in Rafah on the night of February 11. They were held in civilian homes. The hostages held in Nuseirat were also held in civilian homes. The IDF said that Abdallah Aljamal “was an operative in the Hamas terrorist organization, who held the hostages Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv captive in his family home in Nuseirat.” Aljamal and members of his family held the three male hostages in their home. “This is further evidence of the deliberate use of civilian homes and buildings by the Hamas terrorist organization to hold Israeli hostages captive in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.

The raid was complex due to the fact the hostages were in civilian homes in a densely-populated area. The operation involved Israel’s elite Yamam police unit that specializes in hostage rescue. “The operation was carried out after many weeks of accurate intelligence gathering conducted by the ISA and the Hostage Task Force in the Intelligence Directorate (J2), where the preliminary information on the whereabouts of the hostages at both locations was compiled, as well as the intelligence that enabled the operational conditions of the rescue,” the IDF said.

Commanding Officer of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, and the Commanding Officer of the 98th Division, Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus assembled in the morning to monitor the raid. The 98th division has been operating in central Gaza since the first week of June. The IDF’s Paratrooper Reconnaissance Unit Combat Team led the rescue along with the Yaman, entering the crowded neighborhood in vehicles. Shaldag special forces also helped direct airstrikes that were carried out to help cover the operation.

After the rescue, the hostages were taken to the beach and extracted with helicopters. “The Paratrooper Brigade Combat Team led the operation to rescue the hostages and the special forces while under fire and transported them to the helicopter boarding point in the heart of the Gaza Strip. Under the Combat Team, soldiers of the Paratrooper Reconnaissance Unit, Unit 5515, Shayetet 13, the Givati ​Reconnaissance Unit…took part in the operation,” the IDF said. Tanks and armored vehicles also help in the operation, providing cover as the units left the area. The hostages were taken to Israel’s Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center.

The operation was named “Arnon” after Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, the Yamam’ Squad Commander, who was killed in the raid. The IDF noted that he had played a role on October 7 fighting terrorists near Yad Mordechai with his unit, “eliminating dozens of terrorists and preventing the terrorists from infiltrating northwards. He then went on to fight in the battle at Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Be’eri. Arnon was part of the force that broke into the apartment where the hostages were being held, was severely injured during a battle, and later died in the hospital,” the Israeli army said in a statement. A number of Gazans were killed and wounded in the operation.

The raid marks an important moment for Israel and was seen as a major success in a war that has stretched on for eight months. Over the last month, the IDF had recovered the bodies of seven hostages in Jabalya. The 98th division led that operation and its ability to finally rescue living hostages was a positive development for the unit. On June 3 the IDF declared that four elderly hostages; Chaim Peri, 79, Amiram Cooper, 84, Yoram Metzger, 80, and Nadav Popplewell, 51, had also been confirmed killed in Gaza.

The hostage rescue compelled Israel war cabinet minister Benny Gantz to postpone his party’s planned resignation from the government by one day. “[Israel Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu prevents us from moving forward to a real victory [in Gaza],” Gantz said on June 9, announcing his leave. His exit raises many questions about how Israel’s war will proceed.

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 

Issues:

Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power