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One IDF Soldier Killed, 15 Terrorists Eliminated in Gaza

IDF soldier killed in clashes named as 20 year-old sergeant Eitan Barak.
By Kobi Finkler, Tova Dvorin and Dalit Halevi
First Publish: 7/18/2014, 7:24 AM / Last Update: 7/18/2014, 9:55 AM

IDF vehicle.
IDF vehicle.
Reuters

The IDF has released a summary of the last eight hours of Operation Protective Edge's ground offensive in Gaza on Friday morning, after tens of thousands of soldiers were called up to enter Gaza and destroy Hamas's arsenals and terror tunnels.

The IDF eliminated 15 terrorists overnight; 103 terror targets were eliminated, including 20 buried launchers.

One IDF soldier, who has been named as 20 year-old Sgt. Eitan Barak from Herzliya, was also killed in the fighting after being critically wounded during clashes near Beit Hanoun; an investigation has been launched into whether he may have been killed from friendly fire. He was announced dead at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. His funeral is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 5:00 in the Herzliya cemetery.

Four additional soldiers were also injured during the ground offensive overnight; one suffered moderate injuries and three others light injuries. Many of the injuries were to the face and neck; all of the wounded soldiers are being treated at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva. 

According to a notice from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, part of Hamas's "terror wing," terrorists ambushed the IDF's special forces late Thursday night in the northern and southern border regions of Gaza; another Al-Qassam Brigades suicide bombing targeted IDF vehicles north of Beit Lahiya.

The reports, which remain unconfirmed, claim five bombs were detonated in the attack and sparked gunfire between Hamas and IDF forces.

Hamas also claimed that IDF forces were "forced to withdraw" from fighting near an agricultural school in Beit Hanoun (northern Gaza) and Al-Hasinat, east of Rafah (southern Gaza).

"There were a number of events during the night," military spokesman General Moti Almoz told IDF Radio. "The incident in which a soldier was killed, we are checking the circumstances now and when we know them all we shall release the findings."

'Most extensive operation ever' in Gaza

Since the beginning of the operation, more than 2200 terror targets in Gaza have been eliminated, the IDF announced Friday.

A senior official involved in the operation spoke to Arutz Sheva on the condition of anonymity early Friday, and noted that the operation - which is "the most extensive operation" ever carried out by IDF forces in Gaza - is ultimately designed decimate Hamas, far beyond what was achieved in Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. 

The official added that the real conflict is yet to follow. 

"The operation will include three stages: an integrated air and sea assault, a ground operation from the Army, and the third part - if and when it is needed - would be expanding the operation, including recruiting more reservists," he said. 

As of Friday, 48,000 reserve soldiers have been called up; an additional 18,000 were approved for reserve duty Thursday night.