Ten soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including high-ranking officers, were killed fighting Hamas terrorists in Gaza, the Israeli army said on Wednesday.
Nine of the soldiers died while engaged in combat in the northern Gaza Strip village of Shejaiya, known as a stronghold of the Hamas terror group. It was one of the deadliest single encounters since Israeli troops launched their ground campaign into Gaza in October.
The soldiers were engaging in search operations when they entered buildings that they believed to be abandoned, only to find a tunnel inside. Upon entering the building, they were ambushed with grenades and gunfire, which led to four IDF deaths immediately.
Between the gun battle and grenades flying, another 5 soldiers were killed, including two from the elite 669 unit, considered one of the best search and rescue military units in the world.
Among the dead was Col. Itzhak Ben Basat, 44, head of the Golani Brigade’s commander’s team. He was the most senior IDF officer to have been killed in the ground offensive against Hamas.
Staff Sgt. Oriya Yaakov, 19, was killed in a separate incident in northern Gaza.
“The Maccabees of our day,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog tweeted in reference to the soldiers killed on Tuesday. “The joy of Hanukkah this year is more difficult than ever, when the candles of the menorah and the candles of remembrance mingle with each other, with sorrow and grief, but no less — with immense pride and faith in the righteousness of the path.”
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, began last Thursday and is set to end on Friday night. It marks the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE, after a small group of Jewish fighters known as the Maccabees liberated the land from oppressive foreign forces.
“Ten names were added today to our bereaved tombstone in the difficult and just war against the cruel enemy,” Herzog added. “Ten commanders and fighters, the best of the best, heroes among heroes who fell in the battle for the defense of the people and the homeland, and left a huge void in their image — in the hearts of all of us.”
The Israeli president concluded by saying that the Jewish state “swears to fulfill their will: the eternity of Israel and the unity of Israel.” He also quoted the Bible: “And I heard every candle and candle, calling to me: ‘Arise, awake, living people and arise!’”
War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz also tweeted about the incident, saying, “Every one who falls is a scar on the entire State of Israel, and every such scar is a reminder of the heroism of our warriors, and of the need to be worthy as a society of their sacrifice.”
Wednesday’s announcement by Israel brought the Israeli death toll in the ground offensive to 115, not including the roughly 300 soldiers and police murdered during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel that launched the current conflict. An additional 900 civilians were killed during the onslaught.
Obituary: Stanley Plotnick, 82, an e-commerce pioneer in Montreal—and a major philanthropist for Canadian and Israel-based projects
Stanley Plotnick, who played multiple leading roles for decades in the Montreal and Canadian Jewish community and was a major philanthropist for Israel-based projects, died on Feb. 19 at age 82. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Plotnick was a pioneering entrepreneur in the field of information technology, specifically e-commerce, and founded […]
Israel Denies UN Report Claiming Israeli Forces Assaulted Palestinian Women
Israel has denied allegations made by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) charging Israeli forces with rape, abduction and extrajudicial killings of Palestinian women in Gaza, labeling them “despicable and unfounded.”
The UN experts’ statement released on Monday said there were “credible allegations of egregious human rights violations” by the Israel Defense Forces against Palestinian women and girls.
“Many [Palestinian women and girls] have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten,” the statement from the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner said. “On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food.”
“At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the statement added.
The report did not mention how it carried out its investigation and neither did it provide any evidence of its allegations.
The Israeli government’s response was swift and stern.
“Israel forcefully rejects the despicable and unfounded claims published today by a group of so-called UN experts, including one who just days ago legitimised the massacre of October 7 in which more than 1,200 people were murdered, executed and raped, and another who publicly doubted the testimonies of Israeli victims of gender-based and sexual violence,” Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva said in a statement.
The experts cited in the UN report include Francesca Albanese, the UN monitor who came under fire for justifying the Hamas-led attack on October 7 because it was “in response to Israel’s oppression.” Albanese also denied that rapes and beheadings against Israelis ever took place. Another of the experts listed, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls Reem Alsalem, likewise denied sexual violence against Israeli women, calling it “disinformation.”
“These [UN] mandate holders have remained silent on the horrific sexual violence and gender-based violence perpetrated by Hamas on and since October 7. It is clear that the co-signatories are motivated not by the truth but by their hatred for Israel and its people,” the Israeli statement said.
Israeli MK Danny Danon (Likud), who served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said that the statement was “nothing more than an endorsement of terror and genocide.”
“Where were these purported ‘experts’ when instances of violence occurred, such as when Hamas committed heinous acts against women, children, and families, raping, torturing and burning people alive?” Danon told The Algemeiner.
“Where are these ‘experts’ today to speak out for the innocent women and children and the remaining hostages, brutally kidnapped by Hamas and still held by the terror group with zero access to any form of humanitarian aid?”
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, lawyer and chairwoman of legal aid group Shurat HaDin who has in the past represented the families of Israeli terror victims in cases against Hamas, said Monday’s report came as “no surprise” given the UN’s anti-Israel bias.
“Hamas is losing the war, so its supporters rush to help it in its last dying moments. The sole weapon of Israel’s enemies is illusory slander plots against Israel,” Darshan-Leitner told The Algemeiner.
Darshan-Leitner went on to note that the accusations against the IDF were the same atrocities perpetrated against Israeli women on October 7.
“Since they want to keep symmetry between Israel and Hamas, they pretend everything that Hamas has done against Israel on a monstrous scale Israel has done also on a lower scale. But lies have to be proven,” she said. “Israel does not rape, Israel does not kidnap babies, Israel does not separate children from parents. Only the Hamas monsters do that as their go-pro cameras have proven.”
The UN statement also claimed that an “unknown number” of Palestinian women and girls had “reportedly gone missing after contact with the Israeli army in Gaza” and went on to say that there were reports of at least one female infant was “forcibly transferred by the Israeli army into Israel.”
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Saudi Report Says Hamas Chief Sinwar Escaped to Egypt with Hostages, Israel Denies
Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, may have escaped with hostages to Egypt via tunnels in Rafah, the Saudi-based Elaph news site reported on Tuesday citing an Israeli security source.
Israeli officials later denied the claim saying there was no intelligence to support it.
According to the Arabic-language report, Sinwar fled to Egypt through the vast network of tunnels in Rafah along with his brother Mohammad Sinwar and other key Hamas operatives.
The IDF said later on Tuesday that it had no reason to believe that Sinwar was not still in Gaza.
Elaph, based in London, has in the past broken stories involving Israel and citing Israeli sources, including a December report about secret negotiations taking place in Europe between Qatar and Israeli officials for the release of the hostages still being held in Gaza.
Last week, the IDF shared footage showing Sinwar in a tunnel in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, accompanied by his wife, children and his brother Ibrahim Sinwar. The footage was captured days after the October 7 attack by his terror group and corroborated IDF claims that Sinwar had fled Hamas’s headquarters in northern Gaza and moved to the tunnels beneath Khan Younis, exploiting a humanitarian corridor that the IDF had opened to ensure the safe passage of civilians from Gaza City.
“The hunt for Sinwar will not stop until we catch him, dead or alive,” IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said at the time.
Israeli media has reported that Sinwar has been incommunicado with Hamas for several weeks as he attempts to elude Israeli forces.
The army has refrained from entering Rafah, the remaining Hamas stronghold, amid strong pressure from the US and UN. But fighting continued in Khan Younis on Tuesday, with IDF operations at the Nasser Hospital. Over 200 individuals at the hospital were detained under suspicion of terrorist activities, with many reportedly linked to the hostages held by Hamas, the IDF said.
The post Saudi Report Says Hamas Chief Sinwar Escaped to Egypt with Hostages, Israel Denies first appeared on Algemeiner.com.