Tributes abound for Arnon Zmora who was fatally wounded rescuing hostages

Before Zmora’s death, Amir Ofer, a hero of the Entebbe raid, told him, ‘You literally saved the country. You have already secured your place in heaven, and more.’

Arnon Zmora, a 36-year-old officer of the elite Yamam counter-terrorism unit that rescued 4 hostages in Gaza on Saturday, was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl with many tributes.

He was fatally injured during the complex daylight IDF mission that has been named “Operation Arnon” in his honor.

Arnon’s wife, Michal, posted on Facebook that he was “an amazing partner, a perfect father” of two children and “a loving and loved man.”

She added, “Now, everything is filled with the image of the late hero Arnon Zmora.”

“But long before he was a warrior and a hero, he was a sweet and charming man,” she said.

On Saturday, a joint IDF, ISA, and Israel Police (Yamam) mission was carried out in Nuseirat.

In two separate locations, four Israeli hostages were rescued: Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27), and Shlomi Ziv (40).

Arnon Zmora was fatally wounded in the operation and died in hospital a few hours later.

One striking tribute came in from Amir Ofer, one of the rescuers of the hostages in Entebbe, who had the opportunity to meet and talk to Zmora before his death.

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Entebbe was a counter-terrorism mission that took place in 1976 when 100 hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists were rescued by the IDF at Uganda’s Entebbe airport.

Ofer recounts that Zmora approached him at an event attended by thousands of people, recognized him, and asked him to lecture Yamam about his experiences during Entebbe.

Ofer said Zmora contacted him on October 16, 2023, and asked for his advice on dealing with the war.

Ofer wrote: “I saw before me a man among men, a true hero, and an exceptionally moral person. I told him – and I meant every word I said – that there is no comparison between the situations and that even God would not have been able to save the people in Be’eri.”

“I recommended that he take a few days quietly and write down everything that happened to him in the crazy first days of the war. He thanked me very much,” Ofer said.

Ofer said he told him at the time: “You literally saved the country. You have already secured your place in heaven, and more.”

Ofer added: “This man deserves to be known by everyone in the country.”