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Israelis Marvel, Celebrate Weekend Hostage Rescue as Gantz Quits Netanyahu Coalition

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JERUSALEM, Israel – National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's War Cabinet, announced his decision to leave the government and called on Sunday for new elections.

The announcement followed one of the most daring hostage rescues in Israel's history.

In an operation planned for months, forces from the military, the police, and the Shin Bet internal security service rescued four hostages Saturday from central Gaza who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th. 

The family reunions brought joy and a glimmer of hope to Israelis rarely experienced in the past eight months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the hostages and their families. Some say it is the nation's biggest rescue since the raid on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda to free Israeli hostages in 1976.

Amid the joy was also heartache as one of the mission's commanders the Yaman unit's Arnon Zamora, died after being critically wounded in the battle. The successful rescue was renamed Operation Arnon in his honor, and thousands mourned for him at his funeral Sunday, including his wife and two children.

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Just one day after the operation, Gantz announced his decision to leave the coalition. He called on the government to accept the Biden peace plan and for new elections. 

"In order to ensure a real victory, it is fitting that in the fall of the year (after) the disaster, we go to the elections, which will result in the establishment of a government that will win faith and overcome the challenges," Gantz stated.

Netanyahu asked Gantz to stay.

Posting on X, the prime minister wrote, "Israel is in an existential war on several fronts. Benny, this is not the time to abandon the campaign – this is the time to unite the forces. My door will remain open to any Zionist party that is ready to help bring victory over our enemies."

Many Israelis believe new elections are dangerous for Israel, which is in the midst of a multi-front war.

JNS Jerusalem News Editor Alex Traiman's analysis is that Gantz's departure doesn't pose an imminent threat to the government. He also pointed out to CBN News that soldiers with differing political views are joined in the Gaza war effort.   

“Israelis are fighting in Gaza left and right alongside each other. Supporters of the prime minister, opponents of the prime minister, and they would have hoped that in this time of intense security crisis, that the politicians would do the same," Traiman noted.

In the meantime, Israelis are relishing the joy of Saturday's rescue. The code word for the operation was "The diamonds are on their way home."    

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