Eight Soldiers Killed in Rafah APC Blast

By Yoni Weiss

Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, June 5. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)

Eight troops from the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Engineering Battalion of the 401st Armored Brigade were killed in an explosion of an armored personnel carrier early Shabbos morning in the western Rafah area. The APC, based on the Merkava tank, is often considered one of the safest in any army.

The name one fallen soldier has been publicly released a short while after the incident: Wassem Mahmoud, a captain and deputy company commander in the battalion, who was a Druze serving int he IDF.

Later on Motzaei Shabbos, the names of the seven soldiers, Hy”d, who were killed were cleared for publication: Sergeant Elyahu Moshe Zimbalist, Sergeant Itay Amar, Staff Sergeant Stanislav Kostarev, Staff Sergeant Orr Blumovitz, Staff Sergeant Oz Yeshaya Gruber, Sergeant Shalom Menachem, and Yakir Levi.

The blast occurred as a combat team was moving from an attack on the Al-Sultan camp in western Rafah to a staging area. Tragically, all eight soldiers inside the armored vehicle were killed. Their families have been notified.

On Monday, the IDF announced the names of more soldiers killed in action during Operation Iron Swords following intense combat operations in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Four soldiers from the Givati Brigade Training Formation, which operates under the Givati Brigade in a joint operation with the Nahal Brigade, were killed in the Shabura neighborhood. The force was moving along the main street near the market, an area with tunnels, reinforced houses, and ammunition. They approached a three-story building they planned to enter and threw a stun grenade inside to detonate any explosives. Despite this precaution, a massive explosion occurred when the forces entered, causing the building to collapse.

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