US/World News

Ten IDF soldiers killed fighting Hamas in Gaza

(JNS) Ten Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, the military announced on Sunday morning. One additional soldier passed away from wounds sustained during fighting last week, according to the IDF.

Eight soldiers were killed early on Saturday morning when their “Namer” armored personnel carrier was destroyed during an operation in Tel Sultan in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, according to IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

The casualties were identified as Cpt. Wassem Mahmoud, 23, from Beit Jann; Sgt. Eliyahu Moshe Zimbalist, 21, from Beit Shemesh; Sgt. Itay Amar, 19, from Kochav Yair; Sgt. Stanislav Kostarev, 21, from Ashdod; Sgt. Or Blumovitz, 20, from Pardes Hanna-Karkur; Sgt. Oz Yeshaya Gruber, 20, from Tal Menashe; and Sgt. Yakir Ya’akov Levi, 21, from Hafetz Haim. The final name was due to be released later.

The deadly blast, which Hagari said remains under investigation, was apparently caused by an improvised explosive device or an anti-tank missile. The incident was one of the deadliest since late January, when 21 soldiers died in a building collapse caused by a blast in central Gaza.

An initial probe found that IDF rescue forces had difficulty accessing the APC, which was said to have caught fire, causing a chain of explosions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement on Saturday night.

“Citizens of Israel, today we paid a heart-rending price in our just war in defense of our homeland,” he said. “Our hearts are shattered before this terrible loss. The entire people of Israel embraces the dear families in their most difficult hour of grief”

He went on to state that, “despite the heavy and unsettling price, we must cling to the goals of the war: The destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the return of all of our hostages, making certain that Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israel and the return of our residents securely to their homes in both the north and the south.”

Israel, he said, was in the midst of a “very difficult” war. “The war is being conducted on several fronts, including the international front. We are ready for many additional challenges. It is at this time that we must show our people’s strength of spirit, thanks to which we have overcome all of our enemies. So it will be this time as well,” he added.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “The pain that comes with such loss is immense. My heart and my thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the fallen. I stand with the entire nation of Israel in remembering and honoring the heroes who fell while defending their people and their homeland.”

In a separate incident, Cpt. (res.) Eitan Koplovich, 28, from Jerusalem, and Warrant Officer (res.) Elon Waiss, 49, from Psagot, were killed when Hamas targeted their tank with explosives, according to the IDF. Two others were seriously wounded in the attack.

Separately, an IDF fighter who was seriously wounded during battle in the southern Strip on Monday succumbed to his wounds, the military said on Saturday night. He was named as Sgt. Yair Roitman, 19, of the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, from Karnei Shomron in Samaria.

Roitman was wounded when a blast collapsed a building they were searching in Rafah, in an incident that killed four other soldiers and wounded six, including five seriously.The total death toll among Israeli forces since the start of the Gaza ground operation on Oct. 27 now stands at 307, and at 659 on all fronts since the beginning of the war on Oct. 7, according to IDF data.

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