Ben Gvir argues rescue op shows military pressure, not deal, is how to free hostages

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

The rescue of four Israeli hostages from Gaza earlier today shows that it is unnecessary to reach a deal with Hamas to bring home captives, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir declares.

Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 21, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, who had been abducted from the Supernova music festival, were liberated from captivity in a daring daylight operation carried out by officers of the police’s elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit and agents of the Shin Bet security service.

Ben Gvir has repeatedly threatened to bolt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition if he agrees to a hostage deal ending the war.

“The heroic action of the Yamam and the other security forces shows that there is hope and it is possible to defeat [our] enemies and return the abductees home and not to capitulate,” Ben Gvir says in a statement mourning the death of Yamam officer Arnon Zmora during the operation.

“Arnon was a brave warrior who impressed everyone who met him with his love of Israel and his devotion,” he says, adding that “the soldiers of the Yamam unit of the Israel Police are the spearhead of the security forces,” and that “only through great and continuous military pressure will we be able to return the rest of the abductees to their homes.”

Fellow far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also welcomes the operation.

“With a heart full of joy and excitement, welcome back Noa, Andrey, Almog and Shlomi, how much we waited and prayed for your return,” he tweets. “The entire nation of Israel salutes the security forces for the heroic operation and embraces the family of the soldier Arnon Zmora for his sacrifice for the nation of Israel.”

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