Four IDF soldiers killed in booby-trapped Gaza house

Seven more were injured, five seriously, when the large building in Rafah collapsed.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An IDF officer and three soldiers of the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance unit were killed Monday afternoon in Rafah when a booby-trapped house exploded on them.

The IDF announced the names of the soldiers after notifying their families: Company commander Major Tal Pshebilski (Shaulov) from Gedera (24), St. Sgt. Eitan Karlsbrun from Modiin (20), Sgt. Almog Shalom from Kibbutz Hamadia (19), and Sgt. Yair Levin from Givat Harel (19).

Seven other soldiers were injured, five seriously, in the incident, which began when the force launched an attack in a built-up neighborhood to flush out Hamas terrorists.

At one point, the soldiers threw explosive charges into a three-story building to test if it was booby-trapped. When nothing happened, two men entered, and then apparently a large IED exploded. The force of the blast caused part of the house to collapse, trapping soldiers outside it as well.

IDF teams immediately ran to the site to dig out the troops, with combat helicopters and UAVs in the air providing cover and isolating the scene so they could work safely. Helicopters of the 669th Search and Rescue Unit also landed in the area so the crews could assist in the rescue.

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Upon searching the site later, the IDF found the entrance to a tunnel dug underneath the home. The army said that the house had belonged to a Hamas operative who had apparently been involved in the Gilad Shalit kidnapping in 2006.

Hamas took credit for its military arm’s success in causing the deadly explosion.

All four soldiers will be buried today.

Sgt. Levin was the grandson of former Likud MK and deputy speaker of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin.

Binyamin Regional Council head and chairman of the Yesha Council Israel Gantz called Levin “one of the best of our sons” who had “trained to be the best there is in defense of our country and people,” and fell “as a hero in the battles in Rafah against our damned enemies in Gaza.”

“We send a big hug to the parents, as well as grandparents Moshe and Tzipi Feiglin,” he added. “We owe the victory that will come to Yair and his friends.”

Gedera council head Sahar Pinto wrote that the city “bows its head in deep distress and pain over the death of Major Tal Pshebilski (Shaulov),” who was “a hero of Israel” who “sacrificed his life in fighting for the security of Israel and its residents.” The whole city, he added, mourns together with the family.

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Sgt. Shalom’s high school eulogized him as a “kindhearted young man, gentle, smart and handsome, among the best of our sons who fell as a hero in battle in Gaza.” His mother said of him, “Our son died doing what he loved.”

Mayor of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut Haim Bibas paid tribute to Sgt. Karlsbrun, saying he had left behind his parents and three sisters and that he “share[s] from the bottom of my heart the deep sorrow of the Karlsbrun family.”

A total of 650 soldiers have died in the war to date, just under 300 of them in the Gaza Strip since the ground incursion began after Israel declared total war on Hamas following its October 7 surprise invasion in which its terrorists and others massacred 1,200 people and took 253 hostage.

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