“Shayetet, Shayetet, stay in the bunker, we're coming!" is what the fighters of the Shayetet 13 military unit called out to Golani soldiers who were hiding in a building taken over by Hamas terrorists at the Sufa military outpost.
Shortly after learning of the Hamas invasion of Israel’s southern border area, Shayetet 13's regular and reserve forces were dispatched by helicopter.
The special operations soldiers joined forces with other Israel Defense Forces troops in the area near the border, working to rescue hostages and eliminate clusters of terrorists.
During the fighting, the commandos eliminated more than 60 Hamas terrorists and rescued about 250 hostages alive.
The fighting was heavy and two of Israel's bravest – Lt.-Col. Eli Ginzburg and First Sgt. Ofek Russo – lost their lives defending their country and rescuing civilians and other soldiers from the grips of Hamas.
One of the locations with the most intense fighting was Kibbutz Sufa and the Sufa Outpost near the southern border of the Gaza Strip.
The information from the Saturday morning rescue operation was only cleared for publication on Thursday.
The regular (active duty) forces deployed immediately upon hearing of the Hamas invasion and were joined a few hours later by reserve units who arrived by helicopter from their base further north.
The fighters operated in many locations along the envelope, fighting battles under heavy fire to eliminate terrorists and release hostages. The forces advanced from mission to mission according to various reports.
In some instances, the soldiers even used abandoned civilian vehicles in order to shorten time and reach battle zones faster.
At the Sufa military outpost, the naval force arrived but was significantly outnumbered by dozens of well-armed terrorists who managed to barricade themselves with dozens of hostages inside bunkers on the base.
Some of the hostages were wounded from the Hamas infiltration.
The squadron positioned itself while receiving fire support from armored units and air units and began fierce fighting that lasted several hours.
By the end of the hours-long fighting, the commandos eliminated or captured all 40 Hamas terrorists and successfully rescued the hostages alive.
In another operation that same day, the fighters freed 150 civilians trapped in the community of Nir Oz.
The Shayetet fighters took 26 Hamas terrorists alive during the operations, including Muhammad Abu Ghali, deputy commander of Hamas' southern naval brigade.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.