REVEALED: “The Diamonds Are in Our Hands” Minute by Minute in “Operation Arnon” 

by Micha Gefen

(Via YNet, translated) In the heart of the Nuseirat refugee camp, after eight months and a day in captivity in Gaza, one of the most daring operations since the beginning of the war took place. Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Shlomi Ziv, and Andrei Kozlov, who were kidnapped from the Nova party, were rescued in “Operation Arnon,” named after YAMAM fighter Arnon Zamora, who was killed during the operation. This is how the action unfolded, minute by minute.

**Thursday, 6:30 PM**: After meticulous planning, drills, models, and advanced intelligence tracking that lasted for many weeks, the political echelon approves the operation initially dubbed “Summer Seeds.” The approval was made in a classified discussion, under heavy compartmentalization and waiting for the right moment.

**Saturday, 10:00 AM**: Two main spearhead teams, disguised, leap from several directions towards the Nuseirat refugee camp near the coast. The forces move stealthily in broad daylight towards the two buildings where the hostages were held, passing through thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of local Hamas fighters who did not notice them. According to the Palestinians, the forces entered using a humanitarian aid truck – and Al Jazeera even published footage of it with IDF vehicles, apparently from moments after the operation. The IDF denied this and also denied using the American pier later on.

**10:45 AM**: Special ground observations and technological tracking means from Air Force aircraft identify that the area is clear and there is no suspicious movement in the two buildings, each 3-4 stories high. In one of them, Noa Argamani was held, and in the other, the three other hostages, along with Gaza families and armed guards.

**10:50 AM**: The information and live footage of the alleys, hundreds of meters long, separating the two targets are transmitted to screens in the two command centers from where the operation was commanded: the Shin Bet center in central Israel, attended by the head of service Ronen Bar and the Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, and the Southern Command in Be’er Sheva, from where the Southern Command general managed the surrounding and rescue forces.

**11:00 AM**: The two ground teams receive the “go” command, personally approved in real-time by the head of the Shin Bet and the Chief of Staff. They storm the buildings simultaneously and in full coordination, at the same second, to prevent the terrorists at the second target from discovering it – which would endanger the hostages.

**11:10 AM**: While the elimination of the terrorists guarding Argamani and her rescue went relatively smoothly, the operation in the second building was much more complicated. Commander Zamora’s team reports that he was hit in the crossfire. The fighters who eliminated the terrorists at that target are treating their commander and trying to save him while exiting the building, under increasing fire.

**11:15 AM**: The message everyone was waiting for is reported on the radio: “The diamonds are in our hands” – meaning the hostages are with us.

**11:20 AM**: Under the cover of the delay, dozens of terrorists gather around the building where the three hostages were held, and hundreds of armed men approach from all directions with RPG launchers, PK machine guns, and Kalashnikov rifles. They run through the narrow alleys and the nearby market, crowded with thousands of Gazans.

**11:22 AM**: The forces attempt to escape in  the rescue vehicle, but it is hit by heavy fire and starts to malfunction. Southern Command General Yaron Finkelman activates the pre-prepared rescue plan.

**11:25 AM**: Air Force fighter jets and helicopters launch dozens of munitions towards the terrorists to isolate the area. Hundreds of soldiers from the 7th Brigade, paratroopers, Givati, and Kfir, positioned as reinforcements, are mobilized on foot and also in tanks and Namer APCs into the refugee camp, with navy ships providing cover from the west.

**11:30 AM**: The reinforcement forces and the Air Force manage to isolate the main combat zone, thus providing a safe escape route for the main force with the three hostages. The Southern Command exceptionally approves Air Force Yasur helicopters to land for evacuation deep inside the Gaza Strip, under fire cover from fighter jets. The aerial fire hits the terrorists, tens of meters from the soldiers.

**11:50 AM**: The last special forces soldiers board the helicopters that take off to hospitals in Israel. Attempts to resuscitate Commander Zamora continue in the air, but at the hospital, they are forced to declare his death. Reinforcement forces from the IDF brigades continue to engage the terrorists in the operation’s perimeter – eliminating dozens more of them until the operation ends.

**1:33 PM**: The IDF, Shin Bet, and police officially announce the rescue of the four hostages, and spontaneous celebrations begin – both in Israel and among Israelis abroad.

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