In IDF op ‘Seeds of Summer,’ 4 hostages rescued simultaneously from buildings 200 meters apart

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The name of the joint IDF, Shin Bet and police operation to rescue the four hostages from the Gaza Strip is “Seeds of Summer.”

At 11:00 a.m. the order was given to the Yamam and Shin Bet officers to raid two multi-story buildings in central Gaza’s Nuseirat, where Hamas was holding hostages Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv.

The buildings were about 200 meters apart, and the decision to go for both simultaneously, and not just one of the sites, was due to the possibility that Hamas may murder the hostages after identifying the rescue operation.

Argamani was held by Hamas guards alone in the home of a Palestinian family, while the other three hostages were held at a separate home. According to the IDF, Hamas pays such families to hold the hostages in their homes.

At the home where Meir Jan, Kozlov and Ziv were held, a major gun battle erupted, during which Yamam officer Chief Inspector Arnon Zmora, the commander of the rescue team at the second building, was critically wounded by Hamas fire.

As the three hostages and Zmora were being extracted, their vehicle came under fire, leading it to get stuck. Other forces quickly reached the scene to rescue them, bringing them to a makeshift helipad in Gaza.

There was a large amount of gunfire and RPG fire on the rescue forces amid the operation, leading the ground troops and the Air Force to carry out major strikes in the area to protect themselves and the rescued hostages. The IDF acknowledges that it killed many Palestinian civilians amid the fighting, although it places the blame on Hamas for holding hostages in a civilian environment.

Hamas operatives also fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli helicopters over the area amid the operation, without success.

Footage shows three hostages being taken to a chopper inside the enclave.

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