Israel brutal Nuseirat operation nearly ended in failure: report

A rescue mission to secure Israeli captives held in Nuseirat Refugee Camp that killed 274 Palestinians nearly ended in failure after an Israeli commando team was pinned down by Hamas fighters.

One of the Israeli commando teams sent to rescue the three male hostages in Nuseirat ran into difficulties during the operation, when Hamas fighters cornered the unit, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Israeli captives Shlomi Ziv, Almog Meir Jan and Andrew Kozlov, were in a building 200 metres away from fellow captive Noa Argamani, resulting in two separate teams simultaneously raiding the locations during the operation.

According to the military, the captives were held in the home of Palestinian journalist Abdullah Al-Jamal, who was killed by Israeli commandos who raided the house and who Israel claimed worked for Al Jazeera.

The broadcaster strongly denied the individual worked for the organisation and said the allegations were “a continuation of the process of slander and misinformation aimed at harming Al Jazeera’s reputation, professionalism and independence”.

Euro-Med Monitor chairman Ramy Abdu said Israeli forces also killed his wife Fatima and father Ahmed during the raid, although he did not say whether the captives were being held in the home.

During the operation, the team attempted to rescue the captives engaged in a firefight with Hamas during the operation, resulting in the leader of the commando team, Arnon Zamora, sustaining wounds from which he later died.

After securing the captives, the team reportedly attempted to extract them but their vehicle was disabled by Hamas fire, according to David Tsur, a former commander of Yamam who was briefed on the mission. Tsur added that Hamas took out a separate armoured vehicle.

The Israeli military conducted heavy air and artillery strikes on Nuseirat, a decision that likely resulted in many civilian deaths.

The strikes were described by Palestinian residents of Nuseirat as the heaviest they had witnessed in the war, with many targeting buildings around the busy Nuseirat market. As well as 274 Palestinians killed, Gaza’s health ministry said that 698 people were also wounded.

According to the WSJ, the buildings had been pre-selected before the operation. The captives were then evacuated by helicopter to Israel.

Following the success of the operation, the WSJ quoted an Israeli official as saying that  “there was a thin line between being a huge success and a huge failure”.

Although four captives were rescued, Hamas alleges that three Israelis, including a dual US citizen, were killed during the operation, posting video evidence of three blurred bodies. Israel denies the claim.

Following the operation, some 116 Israelis remain in captivity in Gaza, although the Israeli military believes at least 41 are dead.

Israel has mistakenly killed its own hostages during its assault in Gaza, with released captive Noa Argamani confirming that two others she was held with were killed in an Israeli airstrike in January.

In an interview with Haaretz former hostage Louis Har said that during his time in captivity, his greatest fear was that the Israeli air force would bomb the building he was in, calling the experience “very scary and very anxiety-inducing”.

Israel’s operation in Gaza, which is now in its ninth month, has killed 37,124 Palestinians – mostly women and children – and injured at least  84,712 people.

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