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21 soldiers ‘added to the list of heroes’ – Israeli leaders mourn the dead after worst incident of the Gaza war

Many leaders vow soldiers' deaths 'will not be in vain'

Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

As the scale of the tragedy that cost the lives of 21 Israeli soldiers became more clear the morning after, Israeli leaders and politicians from across the political spectrum expressed condolences to the families of the fallen.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog referred to the fallen as “the best among our sons – truly the silver platter,” in a reference to a popular poem by Israeli poet Nathan Alterman describing the heavy sacrifices the nation of Israel has made.

“Behind every name is a family whose world has fallen apart, is a family that we take to our hearts with sorrow and pain, and at the same time with pride – over the heroism of this generation, the sense of mission and the friendship; the dedication to the goal and the love of the people and the homeland,” Herzog wrote in a statement.

21 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, announced by the IDF on Jan. 23, 2024 (Photo: IDF)

Many government coalition members have said for the soldiers’ deaths to not have been in vain, Israel must continue the war until “total victory” and destroy Hamas.

The tragic loss of 21 soldiers on Monday occurred amid several reports of renewed negotiations and talks about a far-reaching deal between Hamas and Israel that would lead to the release of the Israeli hostages but could potentially include an end to the fighting, as well.

“On behalf of our heroes, for our very lives, we will not stop fighting until total victory,” wrote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I mourn our heroic fallen soldiers. I embrace the families in their hour of sorrow and we all pray for the well-being of those who were wounded,” he added.

Netanyahu said the IDF has opened an inquiry into the incident and that the necessary lessons would be learned.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant emphasized the importance of the war’s outcome in his statement.

“This is a war that will determine the future of Israel for decades to come – the fall of our fighters commands us to achieve the goals of the war.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, chairman of the Religious Zionism party, likened the example of the fallen soldiers to the biblical pillar of fire that guided the people of Israel throughout their wanderings in the desert on the way to Israel.

“Our commitment is that the fall of the boys will not be in vain… they show the way for us to continue this moral campaign of the people of Israel, until we defeat the face of evil, and destroy the darkness,” Smotrich wrote.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said: “Precisely now, it is clearer than ever – the war must not be stopped… I wish we would be worthy of them and fulfill their will, written in blood – crushing and destroying Hamas and returning all the hostages.”

Similiar sentiments were echoed by the Forum of Bereaved Families and Parents, which wrote, “We stand with our backs straight and say ‘continue bravely until victory.’ Because there is no war more moral than this. The fallen heroic soldiers left us to complete the mission and exterminate the enemy.”

“Never again leniency and containment of terrorism. No more understandings and ‘rounds,’ and no release of terrorists. The IDF has full backing to continue until complete victory.”

Politicians from National Unity, which joined the government after the war began, expressed their condolences while urging unity among Israelis.

“On this difficult morning, we must be united, remember the heavy price we are forced to pay for such a just war and the lofty goal for which our heroes fell – to secure our future, to return our daughters and sons, and to secure Israel’s continuation,” wrote war cabinet member and minister, Benny Gantz.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote: “An unbearably difficult morning with the bitter news of the fall of 21 IDF reserve fighters, heroes of Israel, lovers of the land and its defenders who fell in the Gaza Strip. I send a hug to the families of the fighters. The entire nation of Israel is with you in your difficult time.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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