Operation “Arnon” and Hamas’ Response: An Analysis

The "Arnon" operation to rescue four hostages from the Nuseirat refugee camp was a significant surprise for Hamas, dealing both an operational and morale blow. However, Hamas is attempting to downplay the success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Following the successful IDF operation, Hamas is expected to relocate Israeli hostages within the Gaza Strip and bolster security measures, according to Israeli security officials.

The operation, which took Hamas by surprise, has become a focal point in the Arab world and its media, marking a notable shift from previous IDF rescue operations of abductees.

Despite this, Hamas officials, including Yahya Sinwar, remain adamant about their conditions for a hostage release deal.

They assert that Israel must completely cease its military operations in the Gaza Strip and withdraw IDF forces for any negotiations to proceed.

This stance may complicate efforts by international actors, such as the anticipated visit by U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, aimed at advancing a hostage release deal.

Within the Israeli security establishment, there is a debate regarding the impact of the rescue operation on the potential for negotiating a hostage release deal.

Some believe the operation did not alter the negotiation dynamics or Yahya Sinwar’s position.

Hamas officials acknowledge the tactical achievement by Israel but emphasize that they still hold 120 hostages, which they view as their primary leverage to end the war and maintain power in the Strip.

The Islamic Jihad echoed this sentiment, stating that the IDF’s actions in Nuseirat would not influence the hostage negotiations.

Israeli security officials warn that Hamas’ military wing might now seek to abduct IDF soldiers during ongoing battles to achieve an operational, media, and morale victory, counteracting the success of Operation Arnon.

Meanwhile, Abu Obeidah, a spokesperson for Hamas’ military wing, continues psychological warfare against Israel.

He falsely claimed on his Telegram channel that the IDF committed massacres during the rescue operation, resulting in the deaths of other hostages.

He labeled the IDF’s actions as a “complex war crime,” suggesting it endangered the hostages’ conditions and lives.

Hamas’ Health Ministry reported that 210 Palestinians were killed and 400 injured due to IDF actions during the operation.

Additionally, Hamas operatives are disseminating false information, including claims that the IDF used a humanitarian aid truck to infiltrate the camp and that a U.S. military floating pier aided the rescue.

In response, IDF Spokesman Avichai Adrei issued an official statement denying these allegations.

These false claims by Hamas aim to pacify the Gazan public, which is disheartened by Hamas’ failure, and to justify their shortcomings.

Anger in the Nuseirat refugee camp is particularly directed at Hamas for hiding hostages among civilians, resulting in significant casualties.

Residents of the Nuseirat refugee camp also report an increase in collaborators with Israel since the war’s onset, which the Israeli Shin Bet is reportedly leveraging.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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