Captain Wassem Mahmoud
Captain Wassem MahmoudIDF spokesperson

One of the eight IDF soldiers killed in Rafah on Saturday was Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23 years old from Beit Jann.

Mahmoud was a deputy company commander in Engineering Battalion 601. He commanded the APC which went up in flames due to an explosive device. All of the soldiers in the APC were killed.

Sources close to Mahmoud say that he was expected to be released from service on Sunday, and that his family had planned a party to celebrate his homecoming.

Sharif Ghanam, Captain Wassem's uncle, said, "This is a tragedy. Wassem was injured at the start of the war, after shrapnel entered his hand, and he wanted to return to the fighting. He was supposed to undergo an operation but he delayed it until after the war. This was a determined and brave fighter. He was careful not to discuss the war. He always calmed us, especially his mother. Today she is completely destroyed. He was her beating heart, and was taken before his time. Wassem was supposed to begin his studies in March, but he delayed them, because his top priority was the army and his unit."

Beit Jann Council head Nazih Dabbour canceled all of the events planned for Saturday through Monday in honor of Eid al-Adha. He described Wassem as "a special soldier, energetic and brave, who left his mark in every place. Following the great tragedy and the fall of this soldier, all of the holiday events are canceled. May his memory be blessed."

Shaykh Mowafaq Ṭarīf, leader of the Druze community, mourned, "In this war, the Druze community is paying again and again a price heavier than we can bear. Wassem joins a long list of Druze soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the security of the country since the war began. How symbolic is this sacrifice on the eve of the holiday. My heart is with the Mahmoud family during these difficult moments, during which their world overturned, after they received - on the eve of the holiday - the worst news possible. Their son will return - but to an eternal rest. Again we are discovering on the battlefield the cooperation and equality in carrying the burden in the battlefield - and the loss."