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A nation in mourning: 12 soldiers killed in 2 days – 11 laid to rest on Sunday

Attack on APC causes one of the highest weekend death tolls since start of war

Family and friends of IDF Senior Staff Sergeant Major (res.) Elon Waiss attend his funeral at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on June 16, 2024.(Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

At least 12 IDF soldiers were killed over the weekend during combat operations in the Gaza Strip, eight of whom were killed in the attack on the Namer (Leopard) APC in Rafah on Saturday. The weekend death toll is one of the highest since the start of the war. 

Israel Defense Forces stated its preliminary investigation indicates the APC was targeted by an anti-tank missile, fired at close range from behind the vehicle. The anti-tank round allegedly struck explosives stored outside of the vehicle, which led to a much larger explosion. The IDF is continuing to investigate the incident. 

On Sunday, 11 funerals were held for the soldiers. While most were killed in the APC blast, two reserve soldiers were killed while fighting in northern Gaza on Saturday In addition, a soldier who was injured in fighting five days earlier, Sgt. Yair Roitman, died from his wounds on Saturday. Another soldier was killed fighting in Rafah on Sunday. 

Roitman was injured in the blast in a booby-trapped building that killed four other soldiers and wounded another six. 

Of the eight soldiers killed in the APC incident, the first name to be announced was Captain Wassem Mahmoud, a Druze deputy commander. His village delayed the start of the Eid al-Adha holiday in order to hold his funeral. 

Mahmoud had been fighting since the outbreak of the war on Oct. 7. His brother-in-law shared that Wassem was injured during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, but did not tell his family. Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze community, said that Wassem returned to the front from the hospital “out of complete faith and identification with the goals of the war.” 

Four funerals were held in succession at the IDF cemetery on Mount Herz in Jerusalem. Three of the soldiers were killed in the APC blast, and the fourth, Elon Weiss (49), died fighting in northern Gaza.

Weiss and another soldier who was buried, Shalom Menachem, lived on the same street in Psagot, near the town of Bet El in Samaria. Menachem died in the APC incident, while Weiss was killed in northern Gaza. 

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich attended the funeral of Weiss, who was a leading figure in his community, and one of the oldest soldiers killed in the Gaza War. He is the father of seven children and also recently became a grandfather. 

Weiss was killed by an explosive device used against the tank in which he was traveling. Another reservist, Captain Eitan Koplovich (28) was killed in the same explosion, which seriously wounded two other soldiers. 

So far, 311 Israeli fighters have been killed in operations in Gaza since the start of the ground campaign. 

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

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