Five Israeli soldiers were killed when a mortar shell fired from Gaza exploded in a staging area in the Eshkol Regional Council near the border on Thursday.
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On Friday, The IDF released the names of four of the five soldiers killed on Thursday: Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Marash, 22, of Rishon Letzion, Capt. Omri Tal, 22, of Yehud, and Staff Sgt. Shay Kushnir, 20, of Kiryat Motzkin, Staff Sergeant Noam Rosenthal, an armored corps combat medic, 20 years old from Meitar, and Capt. (Reserves) Liran Adir (Edry), 31, of Azuz.
According to the IDF Spokesperson's statement, the IDF death toll since the operation began has risen to 61. The mortar explosion was the second incident this week were soldiers have been killed and numerous others wounded by mortar fire.
Once again, the incident points to the problem of concentrating troops in staging areas close to the Strip. Such staging areas, in agricultural zones, become targets for mortar fire. Soldiers who were in staging areas over the last few days said “we always knew that in these areas there is a danger of mortar fire."
A 30-year old man was seriously injured on Thursday when a rocket fell in Kiryat Gat. The Israel Defense Forces said the man was struck by shrapnel when the rocket was intercepted over the city. Two other people were slightly injured and seven were treated for shock. Damage was done to property in the area.
On Thursday morning a soldier was slightly wounded by sniper fire. According to the IDF, the sniper fired on the soldier from within a mosque. Armored Corps forces near the area fired a tank shell back. Two other soldiers were slightly wounded when a rocket fell in Sderot. On Thursday, an Israel Defense Forces Namer-type armored personnel carrier overturned in the Gaza Strip. There were no injuries.
According to Magen David Adom, 26 people were injured on Thursday in rocket barrages; most of them were treated for shock.
There were a number of clashes on Thursday between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and armed Palestinians. Golani Brigade troops spotted an armed Palestinian emerging from a tunnel. The force opened fire and the armed man was killed. In another incident Paratrooper Brigade squad identified a group of about five armed men and an Israel Air Force aircraft attacked them. According to the paratroops, the armed men were killed in the strike.
Fifteen armed Palestinians were killed on Thursday in clashes in the Gaza Strip. A commander of an infantry brigade who spoke to reporters yesterday said that there are more clashes with Hamas militants during the current operation than there were in Operation Cast Lead in 2009, “I see terrorists looking more like a military organization,” the commander said. He also said that during his brigade’s operations an attempt was made to abduct the body of one of the soldiers who was killed. He added that in a number of clashes equipment was found meant to assist the terrorists in kidnapping soldiers, such as anesthetic.
Another officer serving in the Gaza Division said that he thought that in the current operation the Hamas command and other terror groups had not been hit hard enough.
A rocket struck a high tension line on Thursday and cut off power to nine communities. Another rocket was intercepted over the greater Tel Aviv area and three rockets were intercepted over Kiryat Gat. Three more rockets landed in open spaces.
IDF forces continued ground operations on Thursday in the Gaza Strip, focusing on finding and blowing up tunnels. On the night between Wednesday and Thursday the IDF blew up 19 sites, five of which were houses belonging to Palestinian terrorists, whom the army said were using them as command and control posts. The IDF began Thursday morning to call up an additional 16,000 reservists. The army has so far called up approximately 86,000 reservists.