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Eight IDF soldiers killed in Rafah blast

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The deadly explosion was apparently caused by an improvised explosive device or an anti-tank missile.

(JNS)

Eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed early Saturday morning, during an operation in Tel Sultan in Rafah. Details were announced by the IDF late Saturday, after families of the deceased were notified.

The only one of the fallen whose name has been released thus far is Cpt. Wassem Mahmoud. The 23-year-old deputy company commander in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion was from the Druze town of Beit Hann in northern Israel.

According to IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari, the incident occurred when one of the vehicles of a convoy exploded, killing Mahmoud and the other seven soldiers in the “Namer” armored personnel carrier.

The deadly blast, which Hagari said is under investigation, was apparently caused by an improvised explosive device or by an anti-tank missile.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement Saturday night following the incident: “Citizens of Israel, today we paid a heart-rending price in our just war in defense of our homeland,” adding that, “our hearts are shattered before this terrible loss. The entire people of Israel embraces the dear families in their most difficult hour of grief.” I stand by our brave fighters and commanders, who are imbued with the sacred mission to defeat our enemies and return our hostages.”

Netanyahu stated 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.

“We are 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.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant similarly released a statement adding: “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.”

This is a developing story.

Image: Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes as it seen from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Dec. 7, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

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