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Waseem Mahmoud
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8 IDF soldiers killed in Rafah explosion

Waseem Mahmoud

The soldiers were killed by an explosion inside a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

On Saturday, 8 IDF soldiers were killed in an explosion in Rafah in southern Gaza, the deadliest incident in six months.

As of Saturday afternoon, only one of the fallen soldiers was named Druze Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, from Beit Jann.

Mahmoud was a deputy commander of Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion.

The families of the other seven soldiers have been notified, and their names will be announced.

The soldiers were killed by an explosion inside a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV).

The incident occurred after an overnight operation in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafa during which soldiers from the  401st Armored Brigade killed 50 terrorists.’

The Namer was part of a convoy headed toward buildings captured during the operations, where the troops were to rest.

The vehicle carrying the soldiers that were killed was the fifth or sixth in the convoy, and it isn’t yet known whether the explosion resulted from a bomb that was planted previously or if the terrorists hit the vehicle with explosives.

The IDF is also investigating whether explosives kept outside of the vehicle could have been responsible for the explosion. However, it would be unusual for bombs detonating outside of the car to cause the injuries that resulted in the deaths.

Saturday’s incident brought the IDF death toll since the beginning of the war to 307.

Captain Mahmoud’s uncle, Sharif Ghanem, said his nephew returned to fighting after being injured early in the war.

“A great tragedy has befallen us. Waseem was injured at the beginning of the war by shrapnel that penetrated his arm.”

Sharif Ghanem added, “He was supposed to undergo surgery, but he postponed it until the end of the war. Waseem was a determined and brave fighter, everyone loved him.”

Ghanem said, ” Waseem was supposed to start his studies in March, but he postponed them because his main focus was the army and his unit, and ensuring the security of the country.”

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.”

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