IDF announces first fatality in Rafah battle
Israeli soldiers during operational activity in eastern Rafah, the Gaza Strip, May 13, 2024. Photo: IDF

Sgt. Ira Yair Gispan, 19, from Petach Tikvah, was killed in southern Gaza • 100 terrorists have been eliminated since the start of the Rafah operation.

JNS Staff Report
May 15, 2024

An Israeli soldier was killed in action in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, marking the first fatality since the Israel Defense Forces’ Rafah operation began last week.

Sgt. Ira Yair Gispan, 19, from Petach Tikvah, served in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 75th Battalion.

Gispan’s death brings IDF fatalities to 273 since the start of the Gaza ground incursion on Oct. 27. Since the start of the war on Oct. 7, 621 soldiers have died on all fronts.

The IDF began what it has described as a “precise operation” in eastern Rafah on the night of May 6, taking operational control of the border crossing with Egypt and capturing the Salah a-Din road.

Israel tanks rolled further into eastern Rafah on Tuesday while the country was observing its 76th Independence Day.

 “During Memorial Day and Independence Day alone, we eliminated about 100 terrorists in Gaza. In the south of the Gaza Strip, forces from Division 162 continue targeted operations against terrorist targets and Hamas centers in the Rafah region,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday.

“Since the beginning of the operation in Rafah, the forces have eliminated about 100 terrorists, destroyed launchers, located about 10 underground routes and located many weapons, including anti-tank missiles, rockets, and explosives,” Hagari continued.

Israel began evacuations of noncombatants from eastern Rafah to an expanded humanitarian zone in Al-Mawasi last week. According to the United Nations, 450,000 Gazans have so far evacuated from the city.

IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. (res.) Peter Lerner on Tuesday shared footage of Hamas terrorists standing outside the central logistics compound for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Additional video showed one of the terrorists firing at civilians.

“Gunmen, likely Hamas terrorists, hanging out at an UNRWA warehouse in eastern Rafah a few days ago and identified by an IDF drone,” tweeted Lerner. “The U.N. needs to answer some serious questions. Imagine what would’ve happened if we were to target them? The hypocrisy is astounding.”

The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit said in response to the video that it had called on the United Nations to conduct an “urgent investigation” into the matter.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz also shared the video on X, describing it as “Hamas terrorists firing at civilians from within a UNRWA facility next to U.N. vehicles in Rafah.”

Israeli forces are also active in northern Gaza, where they have returned to Jabalia and Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood to quell a Hamas resurgence there.

The IDF announced on Wednesday that in the morning hours, the Nahal Infantry Brigade concluded its operation in Zeitoun and began preparing for additional activities in Gaza, while the 2nd “Carmeli” Reserve Infantry Brigade continues to operate in the area.

“In an operation of the Nahal Brigade in the Zeitoun area, the soldiers eliminated dozens of terrorists in encounters and airstrikes, destroyed terrorist infrastructure and located many weapons, including dozens of AK-47s, grenades, magazines and intelligence management assets of the Hamas terrorist organization,” the IDF said.

“Guided by intelligence, the soldiers located a workshop containing many weapons belonging to Hamas near the Zeitoun School, including gun barrels, AK-47s, ammunition, explosives and machines for producing rockets and launchers were found.”

On Wednesday morning, the IDF said that its air defenses intercepted a projectile launched from the Jabalia area. The launch triggered sirens in several communities near the Gaza border. However, the IDF later clarified that the launch was not intercepted and that the rocket hit a building in Sderot, damaging the structure.

No injuries were reported, and the incident is under investigation.

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