Israel Defence Forces completed a daring daylight operation under heavy fire to free four hostages held in captivity for eight months by Hamas in Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza on Shabbat morning. Special forces rescued Almog Meir Jan, 21, Noa Argamani, 25, Andrez Kozolov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40. All were abducted from the Nova music festival on October 7.

After tests at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer they were reunited with families. All are healthy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the IDF operation, confirmed he gave final approval to the dangerous operation last Thursday and mourned the death of Yamam Squad Commander Arnon Zamora, 36 of Sde David, who led the mission, at the start of a government on Sunday.

“Arnon showed supreme heroism and gave his life to save members of his people,” he said. “Arnon will always be remembered in the chronicles of our people.” Operation Summer Seeds has officially been renamed Operation Arnon. Zamora, married with two children, led the Yad Mordechai Junction battle on 10/7, eliminating dozens of terrorists and preventing infiltration northwards. He also fought in battles at Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Be’eri. His funeral took place at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on Sunday.

An IDF statement read: “Arnon is an Israeli hero who loved and protected his country. He led the force that rescued the four hostages. The IDF salutes his memory.” Michal Zemora wrote: “Long before he was a warrior and hero he was an amazing partner and perfect father. That’s how we’ll remember him.”

Mali Zander, head of nursing, was responsible for the hostages. She told media outlets: “From past experience, in the coming days, we will only discover things… These are joyful moments.” Zander’s daughter Noa was murdered at the Nova festival near Kibbutz Re’im.

“When I had a break, she (Noa) crossed my mind,” she said. “The world missed out on her. As a family, we will continue her legacy, to be here for others,” she said. Almog Meir’s father, Yossi, 59, died at home in Kfar Saba hours before news of his son’s release was known.

Netanyahu met hostages in emotional scenes at Sheba Hospital. He said: “This operation required ingenuity and courage of the highest degree and our soldiers performed in an unmatchable way. We’re committed to getting the release of all the hostages and we expect Hamas to release them all but if they don’t, we’ll do whatever it takes to get them all back home. Hamas is committing war crimes every day including the holding of these hostages. Our soldiers are performing in the most valiant and moral way to end this war with a victory against these killers and against these kidnappers, and we shall prevail.”

President Isaac Herzog thanked the IDF, ISA, Police and counter-terrorism unit Yamam for an “impressive and courageous” operation. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant described the operation as the most heroic he had witnessed in 47 years of the defence establishment.

“IDF, ISA and Special Forces, as well as the forces who supported have conducted an unprecedented operation, daring in nature, planned brilliantly and executed in an extraordinary fashion,” he said. “Our troops showed so much courage, operating under heavy fire. I do not remember having completed operations of this kind at this intensity and with this level of cooperation and success.”

US President Joe Biden welcomed hostages return. “We will not stop until they all return and there is a deal,” he said. Nivi Feldman, Hostages and Missing Families Forum UK, described the rescue as an “emotional rollercoaster”. She said: “Life is precious, we have a moral duty to bring every hostage home. We urge all leaders to pressure Hamas to accept the current deal.”

According to reports the classified rescue operation was planned over a few weeks before the green light last Thursday. Models of buildings and area were constructed for the operation. Real-time footage at Shin Bet’s central command oversaw the operation which began at 10am.

Security forces simultaneously stormed two locations above ground, not tunnels, at 11am. Argamani was in a first floor building, Kozlov, Ziv and Almog Meir Jan at a nearby third floor building among Gazan families. All the terrorist guards were eliminated. During the rescue, terrorists fired RPGs at troops and hostages in the alleys. Troops responded.

When the IDF rescue vehicle came under fire, battalions and rescue helicopters arrived. Surface-to-air missiles were fired at the helicopters. At 11.15am troops relayed the message ‘the diamonds are in our hands’. Despite best medical efforts to resuscitate Zamora during the flight, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Reinforcement troops from IDF brigades eliminated dozens more terrorists. The IDF, Shin Bet and police officially announced the rescue of the hostages at 1.33pm. News of the operation went viral with footage of families being reunited. Channel 13 reported Argamani was held with Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky who died in captivity.

The Foreign Ministries of Jordan and Egypt condemned the IDF operation. The Hamas-run health ministry over 270 people died in the operation. The IDF estimated less than 100 people died.