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Day 207: Two IDF soldiers killed in central Gaza fighting as army awaits Rafah op decision

Hamas fired rockets toward Ashdod and Sderot over the past several days

IDF soldiers at Khan Younis, late April 2024 (Photo: IDF).

Two IDF reserve soldiers were killed and two wounded on Sunday during fighting in the Netzarim corridor, bisecting the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The soldiers were part of the 679th Yiftah and 2nd Carmeli Reserve Brigades which rejoined the fighting only days earlier. The soldiers were identified as Ido Aviv (28) from Karmiel and Kalkidan Meharim (37) from Petah Tikva.

Four other soldiers suffered injuries as a result of an explosion during a gun battle in the Netzarim corridor, the cause of which is still being investigated by the IDF.

The blast led to the collapse of a building, which killed and injured the soldiers. The gun battle was part of an ongoing effort to maintain the corridor and defend it against daily attacks by Hamas.

The Netzarim corridor enables the IDF operational freedom of action across the whole enclave, allowing it to control the territory and prevent terrorists from moving between the northern and southern parts of Gaza.

In other incidents over the past few days, soldiers of the Carmeli and Yiftah Brigades eliminated several terrorists by directing airstrikes at their locations.

With the deaths of Aviv and Meharim, the IDF’s death toll since it began the ground offensive against Hamas rose to 263.

On Monday evening, as Israelis celebrated the last day of Passover, a rocket that was launched from Gaza toward the city of Sderot was intercepted by the IDF’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

“A short time later, Air Force fighter jets attacked operational shafts, an anti-tank launch site, and terrorist infrastructure in the area from which the launch was detected in the northern Gaza Strip,” the IDF reported.

In addition, two rockets were launched at Ashdod, the first time the city was targeted in over a month. The rockets fell into the Mediterranean Sea and alarm sirens were activated.

The IDF continued to prepare for its planned ground operation in Rafah by carrying out airstrikes in the town after IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi approved military plans for the “continuation of the war” during a meeting with several IDF officers on Sunday.

“Hamas uses its control over Rafah to continue to hold hostages, smuggle weapons into Gaza, and command the humanitarian aid that enters the territory, allowing the terrorist group to simultaneously build up an arsenal and exploit aid deliveries in order to maintain its domination over the civilian population,” said Seth Frantzman, an Adjunct Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In northern Gaza, the IDF continued dismantling Hamas' underground system by blowing up two terror tunnels in the area of Beit Hanoun.

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

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