Netanyahu Tells Story of Arnon Zamora, Israeli Hero Who Fell in Hostage Rescue

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Israel Police via Times of Israel)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened a cabinet meeting Sunday by telling the story of Israel Police Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, leader of the Yamam anti-terror unit, who fell in Saturday’s hostage rescue in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s full remarks, translated via the Government Press Office:

Yesterday, in a heroic operation that will yet be talked about, the State of Israel returned home four of its hostages: Noa Argamani, Almog Meir, Andrey Kozolov and Shlomi Ziv. Welcome back home.

Congratulations to the Chief-of-Staff and the IDF, the Director of the ISA and the ISA agents, and the Police Inspector General and the officers of the special anti-terrorism unit. Our heroic fighters stormed into live fire united as one, eliminated the terrorists and freed the hostages.

Last Thursday evening, when I gave final approval to this complex and dangerous operation, I had two main considerations: First – our commitment to return home all of the hostages. Second – the knowledge that it is possible to rely on our fighters, who are without peer in the world. 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.

Amir Ofer was under the command of my brother Yoni, of blessed memory, who fell in the operation to free the hostages at Entebbe in 1976. Amir was the first fighter to burst into the passenger terminal where the hostages were being held.

Here is what he wrote yesterday about Arnon: “Several years ago I was at a performance. An amazing young man approached me and said that he was an officer in the special anti-terrorism unit, He asked me to come to the unit and lecture on Entebbe. Of course, I agreed.”

On October 16, Amir writes, only a few days after the battles to block the enemy in the Western Negev: ‘I received a phone call from Arnon. “I must talk to you” he told me. This was Arnon’s first furlough from the fighting in Gaza since the start of the war. We spoke for two hours. He told me in great detail how he and his friends were in an encounter at Yad Mordechai Junction, how three RPGs missed them by millimeters, how his intuition to stop several kilometers before the junction and gear up saved the entire force, how they fought like lions, how they emptied all of their clips four times on the first day and went from the junction to Sderot, and from Sderot to Ofakim, and from Ofakim to Be’eri, and they were at the forefront everywhere. Arnon told me how his heart broke at Be’eri. He constantly asked me “How you succeeded and we did not.”

I saw before me a true hero, an exceptional and moral person. I went home. I thought about Arnon’s story and I wrote him: “It took me several hours to digest your story. You were real heroes and your performance – under the most difficult conditions – was extraordinary, in strategic surprise, in tactical surprise, in combat in an area full of civilians and in being few against many.”

“You saved the country,” Amir wrote to Arnon. “Your place in Heaven is already assured, and more.”

Ministers of the Government,

On Simchat Torah, Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora showed exceptional heroism. Yesterday, on the eve of the giving of the Torah, he again showed supreme heroism and gave his life to save members of his people. Arnon will always be remembered in the chronicles of our people.

Similar to the Rabin government’s support for the proposal to name the operation to free the hostages at Entebbe – “Operation Yonatan,” after the commander of the assault force who fell in battle, I am certain that the Government will unanimously support the proposal to name the operation to free the hostages in Gaza – “Operation Arnon” – after the commander of the assault force who fell in battle – hero of Israel Arnon Zamora.

Happy is the people that is blessed with its heroes. We will continue together to do our utmost to return all of the hostages, and to achieve victory over our enemies.

The cabinet then renamed “Operation Seeds of Summer” as “Operation Arnon.” Zamora will be laid to rest at 4:00 p.m. local time at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Thousands are expected to pay their respects.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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