24 IDF soldiers killed in deadliest day since start of Gaza combat

Twenty-one troops died in a building collapse, three others in battle • Netanyahu: “I wish to strengthen the families of our heroic warriors who fell.”

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
Credit: IDF

Twenty-four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip on Monday, the deadliest single day for the Israeli military since the start of its ground operation against Hamas on Oct. 27.

Twenty-one soldiers were killed in central Gaza on Monday when two buildings collapsed due to a blast, Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirmed on Tuesday morning.

Three other soldiers were killed in battle in the southern Gaza Strip.

The incident occurred 600 meters (2,000 feet) from the Israeli border near the northwestern Negev community of Kibbutz Kissufim as Israeli forces were working on clearing Hamas infrastructure and buildings to establish a buffer zone.

According to Hagari, at around 4 p.m. terrorists fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a tank securing the forces. At the same time, two two-story buildings collapsed as a result of an explosion while most of the troops were inside or near them. The blast was apparently caused by explosives planted by the Israeli forces, intended to destroy the buildings in a controlled event.

Hagari emphasized that the incident is still under investigation, including the cause of the explosion.

He added that a “very complicated” rescue operation took place involving commanders and rescue workers who arrived quickly to the scene.

“War has a very painful and heavy price. The dedicated reservists, who stood up for the flag, sacrificed the most precious of all, for the security of the State of Israel and so that we can all live here safely,” said Hagari.

War Cabinet ministers—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Gantz—issued a joint statement about the incident on Tuesday afternoon.

“We bow our heads in memory of our fallen, and yet we do not for a moment stop striving for an irreplaceable goal—the achievement of absolute victory,” they said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu called it “one of the most difficult days since the outbreak of the war,” saying that he was sending strength to the bereaved families.

“I mourn for our fallen heroic soldiers. I hug the families in their time of need and we all pray for the peace of our wounded,” the premier continued, adding that the IDF had launched an investigation into the incident.

“We must learn the necessary lessons and do everything to preserve the lives of our warriors. In the name of our heroes, we will not stop fighting until absolute victory,” said Netanyahu.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday called it “an unbearably difficult morning, in which more and more names of the best of our sons…are added to the gravestones of heroes.”

Herzog continued: “Behind every name is a family whose world has fallen, a family whose pain and sorrow we feel in our hearts. At the same time, we feel pride for the heroism of our generation, for the mission to combat evil, for sticking to the goal and for the love of our people and homeland.”

Gallant said, “Our hearts are with the dear families in their most difficult time,” adding: “This is a war that will determine the future of Israel for decades to come—the fall of the soldiers compels us to achieve the goals of the fighting.”

The IDF initially released for publication the names of 10 of the soldiers killed in the incident. The families of the remaining 11 were notified. The military later in the morning allowed for the publication of the names of seven additional soldiers and then the remaining four in the afternoon.

They are:

  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Matan Lazar
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Hadar Kapeluk
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Sergey Gontmaher
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Elkana Yehuda Sfez
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Yoval Lopez
  • Master Sgt. (res.) Yoav Levi
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Nicholas Berger
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Cydrick Garin
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Rafael Elias Mosheyoff
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Barak Haim Ben Valid
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Ahmad Abu Latif
  • Cpt. (res.) Nir Binyamin
  • Master Sgt. (res.) Elkana Vizel
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Israel Socol
  • Cpt. (res.) Ariel Mordechay Wollfstal
  • Sgt. First Class (res.) Sagi Idan
  • Sgt. Maj. Mark Kononovich
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Itamar Tal
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Adam Bismut
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Shay Biton Hayun
  • Sgt. Maj. (res.) Daniel Kasau Zegeye

The three soldiers killed in action in the southern Gaza Strip are:

  • Maj. David Nati Alfasi
  • Maj. Ilay Levy
  • Capt. Eyal Mevorach Twito

A total of 221 soldiers have been killed since the start of Gaza ground operations on Oct. 27, and 556 have been killed on all fronts since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

 

Palestinians celebrate

Palestinians celebrated the deaths of over 20 Israeli soldiers on social media with a banner that quickly went viral.

For Hamas and its supporters, any significant loss of Israeli life is seen as a major victory.

Palestinian commenters also claimed that the IDF was lying to Israelis, and that the real number of IDF soldiers killed in Gaza yesterday was over 50.

With reporting by JNS.