Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking at Sheba Hospital yesterday (video snippet)

In a stunning display of bravery and precision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday night the successful rescue of four hostages held by Hamas. Meeting the freed captives and their families at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Netanyahu heaped praise on the soldiers who carried out the audacious daytime operation in Gaza.

“Israel just carried out a remarkable rescue operation of four hostages held by Hamas," Netanyahu began his remarks in English from the podium at the world renowned hospital.  Continuing, he said: "This operation required ingenuity and courage of the highest degree, and our soldiers performed in an unmatchable way.” Netanyahu vowed to be resolute in his efforts to get the remaining hostages returned, and left the door open for both a diplomatic and military solution in order to accomplish this goal.

Netanyahu also condemned Hamas, stating, “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.”

The operation, executed in the heart of a densely populated neighborhood, saw Israeli forces recover Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 40, from Hamas captivity. The mission was not without sacrifice, as Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora of the Border Police’s elite “Yamam” National Counter-Terrorism Unit was mortally wounded during the rescue and later pronounced dead at the hospital. In honor of Zamora, the IDF announced that the mission to rescue the hostages would be named in his honor.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant paid tribute to Zamora, tweeting, “I salute Chief Inspector Arnon Zamora, who fell heroically while leading a daring operation to rescue four hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. He lived and died a hero.” Incidentally, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz who had a press conference scheduled for Saturday evening to expectedly pull out of the wartime coalition, canceled that press conference. Gantz had given Netanyahu until June 7th to lay out his exit strategy and post-war vision for Gaza, and when the deadline hit Gantz announced the media appearance.

It is uncertain at this time if Gantz will step down, or the successful mission has him staying in the government. Netanyahu has asked the former Army Chief of Staff to stay in the coalition, however as of now, Gantz has not made any statements. In most polls, Gantz is seen as the one who will garner the most support to form the next coalition if elections were held today. The raid will most certainly boost Netanyahu's numbers, however the gap between Gantz and Netanyahu was wide. In some polls, Gantz's party was nearing levels unseen since the days where the Labor governments of Golda Meir or Yitzhak Rabin dominated Israeli politics. With his "National Unity" coalition, Gantz is polling at over 40 of the available 120 seats within the Knesset in some polls.

The four hostages were abducted from the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im during the horrific October 7 massacre. Sara Netanyahu, the Israeli First Lady, assured Rosetta Ziv, mother of Shlomi, that the operation would be named in honor of Zamora. She also expressed joy at the reunion of Noa Argamani with her terminally ill mother, Liora, at Ichilov Hospital.

“Thank God. I thanked the prime minister and I thank you. He promised action, and he delivered,” said Yaakov Argamani, father of Noa, whose rescue coincided with his birthday. “We have a strong and courageous prime minister. With God’s help, I believe he and our army will bring all our hostages home.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog lauded the rescue, expressing overwhelming emotion and gratitude to the Israeli forces for “an impressive and courageous rescue operation” and urging the immediate release of the remaining captives.

“With overwhelming emotions, we received the moving news about the rescue of Noa Argamani, Almog Meir, Andrey Kozlov, and Shlomi Ziv, who were kidnapped on October 7th and are finally reunited with their loved ones,” Herzog stated. “On behalf of the entire people of Israel, I thank the IDF, Shabak, the Israel Police, and the Israel Defense Forces for this impressive and courageous rescue operation. Am Yisrael Chai!”

Defense Minister Gallant praised the mission as “one of the most heroic and extraordinary operations” in his 47 years in the defense establishment, emphasizing its daring nature, brilliant planning, and extraordinary execution.

Addressing false claims by Hamas supporters, the IDF denied reports that Israeli special forces used a humanitarian aid truck or the US-built floating pier on the central Gaza coast for the mission. Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman, dismissed these allegations as “lies spread by Hamas media.”

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