UPDATE: The IDF confirmed on Monday evening that 7 IDF officers and soldiers have been killed in Gaza over the last 24 hours, Hy”d. Today’s fatalities bring the toll of fallen soldiers in Operation Protective Edge to 25.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that three other soldiers have been seriously wounded, eight moderately and 19 lightly.
Four of the seven soldiers were killed in the early morning ambush carried out by Hamas near the Gaza Strip, when an antitank missile hit their jeep near Kibbutz Niram.
The three others were killed in Saajiya, one of them possibly, tragically, by ”friendly fire.”
Secretary of State John Kerry will be coming to Israel tonight, after visiting Cairo and meeting with Egyptian and Palestinian leaders.
Our tefillos are with the soldiers and civilians in Eretz Yisroel.
Two terror cells infiltrated southern Israel via a tunnel from the Gaza Strip early Monday morning. The terrorists surfaced between two kibbutzim, Erez and Nir Am. After two hours, in which residents were directed to remain indoors and lock their doors – and roads were closed to traffic south of Ashkelon – IDF forces killed the terrorists. Casualties were reported among IDF soldiers.
Meanwhile, the IDF advanced further into the Gaza Strip overnight, and clashes were reported in a number of areas. Two apparent tunnel sites were located by forces.
In intense fighting in the Hamas stronghold of Shuja’iyya, in Gaza City, forces from the Egoz unit engaged and killed 10 Hamas terrorists, including one who was wearing a suicide vest.At least one terror tunnel was uncovered in the neighborhood.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that IDF forces are “advancing in the field as planned” and that Operation Protective Edge is going to continue and be expanded until its objective is met: restoring quiet to Israeli citizens for a long time.
“The achievements in the fighting on the ground are significant,” Netanyahu said during security consultations in the south attended by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman.
IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz also stressed that the purpose of the operation in Gaza is to destroy the Hamas tunnels that are being used to launch attack on Israelis, and that reoccupation of the Strip is not on the table.
The IDF released the names of seven of the thirteen soldiers killed in the fighting in Gaza on Motzoei Shabbos and early Sunday. Their deaths brought the number of soldiers killed since the ground operation began last Thursday to 18.
The names of the soldiers that were released are:
Maj. Tzafrir Bar-Or, 32, of Holon, Hy”d;
Capt. Tzvi Kaplan, 28, of Kibbutz Meirav, Hy”d;
Sgt. Gilad Yacobi, 21, of Kiryat Ono, Hy”d;
Sgt. Oz Mendelovich, 21, of Atzmon, Hy”d;
Sgt. Moshe Malko, 20, of Yerushalayim, Hy”d;
Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, of Ra’anana, Hy”d;
and Max Steinberg, 24, of Be’er Sheva, Hy”d.
The latter two, Carmeli and Steinberg, hail from Texas and California, respectively.
Meanwhile, rocket attacks were launched this morning across Israel, including towards the greater Tel Aviv area, as well as Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza border cities. Two rockets were intercepted over the Tel Aviv region. Hardest hit was Sderot, which was targeted every few minutes.