Parents of officer killed in hostage rescue op want those saved to ‘live their lives’

Chief Inspector Arnon Zmora, who was killed in a mission to rescue hostages held in the Gaza Strip, June 8, 2024. (Israel Police)
Chief Inspector Arnon Zmora, who was killed in a mission to rescue hostages held in the Gaza Strip, June 8, 2024. (Israel Police)

The parents of Arnon Zmora, who died rescuing hostages in the Gaza Strip earlier this month, say they want all those who their son saved to “live their lives.”

Zmora, an officer of the elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit, was shot and critically injured by Hamas terrorists guarding three of the four hostages. He succumbed to his wounds shortly upon arriving at a hospital in Israel.

He was part of the mission to rescue Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov, Shlomi Ziv, and Noa Argamani, which was subsequently renamed “Operation Arnon” in his honor.

“The whole country has taken it very hard because Arnon really gave up his life knowingly to save hostages,” Arnon’s father Reuven tells The Daily Mail. “People we have never met said to me they came to find out who is the family who raised this boy, to say thank you, and to say sorry for our loss.”

The father of Argamani came to Zmora’s funeral, where Arnon’s mother Ruthi told him they were “thrilled” about his daughter’s rescue.

“I told him that I’m very glad that Noa came back – and I hope she will live a full life, build a home and live every day like it’s the last day,” she says, adding that she wants all those rescued in the mission to heed that message.

“This is the most important thing for us, that they really live their lives,” she says. “Because this is the meaning of our loss. It was their life that motivated Arnon that day.”

When the hostages and the injured Zmora arrived at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Reuven describes the atmosphere as having “an air of happiness side by side with sadness.”

Zmora told his father that he was training for a hostage rescue mission in the weeks leading up to the operation, and said he had a “good feeling” that they would succeed.

A week before the mission, he gave his father his watch, and told him to give it back when he returned, The Daily Mail reports.

“He knew the rescue would come at a cost,” Reuven says, his mother adding: “Arno said rescuing a hostage is the most ethical and valuable action there is.”

“We don’t just want Arnon’s legacy to be a name of mission,” Reuven says. “We want people to be like Arnon.”

“Arnon hated violence or bullies and he didn’t go there to kill anyone – but to save lives,” he adds.

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