10 soldiers who fell in Gaza over Shabbat
10 soldiers who fell in Gaza over ShabbatCourtesy

Eight IDF soldiers from the 601st Battalion of the Iron Tracks Brigade 401 were killed on Saturday in the explosion of an APC in the Tel-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah. It is suspected that a terrorist fired an anti-tank missile at the vehicle.

Among the fallen were:

  • Sergeant Elyahu Moshe Zimbalist, 21, from Beit Shemesh.
  • Sergeant Itay Amar, 19, from Kokhav Ya'ir–Tzur Yig'al.
  • Staff sergeant Stanislav Kostarev, 21, from Ashdod.
  • Staff sergeant Orr Blumovitz, 20, from Pardes Hanna-Karkur.
  • Staff sergeant Oz Yeshaia Gruber, 20, from Tal Menashe.

All of them served in the 601st Combat Engineering Battalion.

On Saturday night, it was cleared for publication that one of the eight IDF soldiers killed in Rafah was Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, from Beit Jann.

Mahmoud was a deputy company commander in Engineering Battalion 601. He commanded the APC which went up in flames.

In addition, the IDF cleared for publication on Sunday morning that Captain Eitan Koplovich, 28, from Jerusalem, and Senior Staff Sergeant Major Elon Waiss, 49, from Psagot, fell in battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

Both served in the 129th Armored Battalion of the 8th Armored Brigade.

Two soldiers were seriously injured in the incident in which Koplovich and Waiss fell. They were evacuated for medical treatment at a hospital and their families were notified.

The town of Beit El announced on Saturday night that its resident, Sergeant Shalom Menachem, 21, was one of the victims of the APC disaster in Rafah, which left eight soldiers dead. The Nahal Sorek Regional Council announced that IDF soldier Yakir Levi, 21, from Kibbutz Hafetz Haim was killed in the Rafah tragedy.

With this, the number of IDF fallen since the start of the war has risen to 661.

Master Sergeant (Res.) Elon Waiss

Elon Waiss was supposed to marry off his daughter in about a month and married off another daughter a few weeks ago. Waiss, 49, father of 7 and grandfather of one, chose to volunteer for reserve duty.

His brother Asaf eulogized in an interview with Kan: "My father told me that he spoke to him and said, "Enough, you have kids, there's your daughter's wedding," and he responded to my father – "Dad, you educated us this way, that Israel comes before everything, I'm here for the mission, I'll come back and marry her off."

Asaf also shared: "Ilan was a teacher and tour guide, he was an educator, a person who loved the Land of Israel – he gave his all. His wife Neta told me, "I never imagined, I never imagined, I was calm, I was relaxed, he was on the Netzarim route (a road built by the IDF bisecting Gaza from east to west), on the safe route." My brother is part of the generation of victory. That generation has taught us a lesson, but we have much to learn to be a victorious generation."

Captain Eitan Koplovich

Koplovich, a 28-year-old officer from Hoshaya, fell alongside Waiss in the battle in northern Gaza. His family members eulogized him as "the lion of the group", a Talmudic term of praise. Koplovitz married Yael four years ago, and a year ago their first son Boaz was born.

"He was insanely talented, he had a special combination of humility and excellence," his uncle Golan shared in an interview with Walla. "From a young age, Eitan lived with a sense of mission. At his graduation party in 12th grade, he said he wanted to ensure that every second he breathed would have purpose and benefit."

Captain Wassem Mahmoud

Mahmoud served as a deputy company commander in the 601st Battalion. His uncle, Sharif Ghanem, shared that during the fighting, Mahmoud replaced his injured company commander.

In an interview with Radio 103FM, he shared: "Wassem was offered a chance at academic studies, but he stayed in active service even when he had the option to go on unpaid leave in March. He said he would stay until the end of the fighting and then go to studies. He was injured and refused surgery. He had a swollen hand for several weeks, but he continued the fight in Gaza and did not let it stop him."

Sergeant Itay Amar

Itay Amar, 19, from Kokhav Yair-Tzur Yigal, studied in the same class as Liri Albag, a surveillance post operator who was taken prisoner into the Gaza Strip. Footage of the two volunteering at a senior citizens' club has since begun circulating on social media.

Staff Sergeant Stanislav Kostarev

Kostarev, 21, a graduate of the Mekif school in Ashdod, will be laid to rest at 16:00 at the Ashdod military cemetery.

Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri said: "We send our condolences to the Kostarev family. We will accompany the family, along with all the city's residents, and provide all possible support and assistance."

Staff Sergeant Oz Yeshaia Gruber

Gruber, 20, from Tal Menashe, left behind his parents, Chaim and Shira, and five siblings.

Samaria Governor Yossi Dagan eulogized him: "Oz, a handsome young man, one of our best sons, from a deep-rooted family in Samaria and a cornerstone of the Tal Menashe community, fell today as a hero in battles against our cursed enemies. He dreamed of serving significantly, defending the State of Israel, the people, and the land. When I sat with his mother Shira last night, she told me that he was a man of truth, full of heart, a great idealist, and added that she is sure that if he were asked even now whether to enter Gaza again, he would say he is going in, even knowing he would be killed."

Sergeant Elyahu Moshe Zimbalist

Zimbalist, 21, from Beit Shemesh, studied at the Shalavim Yeshiva along with two other victims, Yakir Levi and Shalom Menachem.

Rabbi Zechariah Rabinowitz, their teacher, eulogized him: "Elyahu was dedicated to the public. He had golden hands and was always ready to assist and help."

"He never refused a favor, he did everything with simplicity and humility. He loved the yeshiva and was happy there. He always held his head high and believed in the righteousness of his path. He strived for victory with all his might until the very end."

Yakir Levi

Yakir Levy is a graduate of the Shalavim Hesder Yeshiva and lived in the town of Chafetz Chaim.

Rabbi Zechariah Rabinowitz, his teacher, eulogized: "Yakir Levi, of blessed memory, was a very bright, friendly, and courteous individual. Yakir was very sharp, as keen as a razor. The last time he visited the yeshiva, Yakir sat with me for a deep learning session with a sparkle in his eyes. He was very determined to win and not see darkness, to hold his head high and give his all."

Sergeant Shalom Menachem

Shalom Menachem grew up in Beit El and left behind parents and seven siblings.

Rabbi Zechariah Rabinowitz, his teacher at the Shalavim yeshiva, eulogized: "Shalom loved the service of God, he knew this was the truth and loved the yeshiva and his surroundings. He always was connected to helping and advancing matters in the yeshiva. He did everything naturally, warmly, and very simply. He was simply a delight, cheerful and always smiling. When he returned from Gaza, he was determined and had a spirit of heroism."

Beit El mayor Shai Alon eulogized: "The residents of Beit El mourn the fall of Shalom Menachem, a combat engineering soldier, the eldest son of Yehuda and Tamar, a twin brother of a Givati combat soldier, and six more siblings. Our heart is with the deep and unparalleled loss of his family at this bitter news. Their sorrow is incomprehensible. Shalom fell as a hero in the war for our existence and will be remembered forever as such."

Alon added that "The Menachem family is a deep-rooted family in Beit El. Shalom is the third generation in the community, a grandson to Saadia and Miriam Sharabi from the founders of the community, and a son of a wonderful family, filled with fear of Heaven, great strength, and faith. Shalom was a reserved, quiet, and modest person, courteous and friendly to everyone. He had a light in his eyes and a huge soul that we will greatly miss. "Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people (Deuteronomy 32:43)."

The Hesder Yeshiva Union expressed deep sorrow at the fall of the soldiers Sergeant Yakir Yaakov Levi, Sergeant Shalom Menachem, and Sergeant Elyahu Moshe Zimbalist. "Combat engineers, students of the third-year class at Shalavim Hesder Yeshiva who fell in a holy war. They were inseparable in life and death. On behalf of the heads of the Hesder Yeshivas, all the rabbis, and the students, we embrace the families, the rabbis of the yeshiva, its students, and graduates, and pray for the decisive victory of our heroic soldiers over our despicable and cruel enemies. May their souls be bound in the bundle of life."