For 1 Israeli, the Gaza war started and ended early

By Lt. Col. James Zumwalt

For some Israeli soldiers, the war against the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered more than 1,200 during their Oct. 7, 2023, raid began 20 days before Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a full-scale invasion of Gaza Oct. 27. One of those was IDF Special Forces Commander Arnon Zamora. For Zamora, the war against Hamas also ended early – on June 8, 2024 – as he was killed in action in a successful operation to rescue four Israeli hostages who were still being held captive by the brutal murderers. The operation is now being named “Operation Arnon” in his memory.

On Oct. 7, Zamora was at Yad Mordechai – a small communal farm (kibbutz) in southern Israel – located 2 miles from the Gaza Strip border. Established in 1943, it remains known today for having impeded the advance of the Egyptian army toward Tel Aviv in 1948. Situated so close to Gaza, it quickly came under attack 10/7 as the Hamas terrorists advanced.

It was Zamora who led the defense of Yad Mordechai that day, demonstrating the courage of its inhabitants 76 years earlier by successfully eliminating dozens of the terrorists and preventing their infiltration northward. One would have thought a single battle would have been sufficient for that day. It was not. Zamora, realizing unarmed Israeli civilians elsewhere were in danger, sought out terrorists conducting similar attacks on two nearby kibbutzes.

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The rescue effort Zamora, 36, was involved in on June 8 had been planned for weeks. The hostages were being held in a civilian apartment building in central Gaza. It was a complex, special, daytime operation as they were held in two different locations by “innocent Gaza civilians.” Unfortunately, while leading the attack into the building, Zamora was severely wounded, later dying from those wounds in the hospital. He left behind a wife and two children.

The IDF issued the following statement about their fellow warrior:

“Arnon is an Israeli hero, who loved and protected his country. He led the force that rescued the four hostages from the central Gaza Strip and returned them to Israel. The IDF salutes his memory.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the rescue operation as follows:

“Israel just carried out a remarkable rescue operation of four hostages held by Hamas. This operation required ingenuity and courage of the highest degree, and our soldiers performed in an unmatchable way.”

Knowing how Western liberals and its media eagerly seek out disinformation with which to taint any successful Israeli military operation against the Hamas thugs, the Arab media reported that “hundreds of Arabs” were killed during the rescue operation. While undoubtedly some terrorists the IDF encountered met their end, any suggestion hundreds were killed is absurd – a claim only made hoping naive Westerners will take the bait.

Those of us who have worn the uniform well understand the pain of losing a courageous warrior like Zamora. Caught by surprise by the Oct. 7 Hamas raid, he put concerns about his own safety aside as his only thoughts focused on rescuing others. It was that same motivation that triggered a similar resolve in him on June 8 to risk his life saving others.

Had he survived the war, Zamora could well have taught anti-Israel college protesters in the U.S. a lot about self-sacrifice and why peace is impossible as long as Hamas exists, evidenced by its not-so-neighborly charter claiming “Israel will exist and continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”

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