IDF announces first fatality in Rafah operation

Sgt. Ira Yair Gispan, 19, from Petah Tikva, served in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 75th Battalion.

By JNS

An Israeli soldier was killed in action in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, marking the first fatality since the Israel Defense Forces’ Rafah operation began last week.

Sgt. Ira Yair Gispan, 19, from Petah Tikva, served in the 7th Armored Brigade’s 75th Battalion.

Gispan’s death brings the IDF death toll to 273 since the start of the Gaza ground invasion on Oct. 27. Since the start of the war on Oct. 7, 621 soldiers have died on all fronts.

The IDF began what it has described as a “precise operation” in eastern Rafah on the night of May 6, taking operational control of the border crossing with Egypt and capturing the Salah a-Din road.

Israel tanks rolled further into eastern Rafah on Tuesday while the country was observing its 76th Independence Day.

“During Memorial Day and Independence Day alone, we eliminated about 100 terrorists in Gaza. In the south of the Gaza Strip, forces from Division 162 continue targeted operations against terrorist targets and Hamas centers in the Rafah region,” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday.

“Since the beginning of the operation in Rafah, the forces have eliminated about 100 terrorists, destroyed launchers, located about 10 underground routes and located many weapons, including anti-tank missiles, rockets, and explosives,” Hagari continued.

Israel began evacuations of noncombatants from eastern Rafah to an expanded humanitarian zone in Al-Mawasi last week. According to the United Nations, 450,000 Gazans have so far evacuated from the city.

IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. (ret.) Peter Lerner on Tuesday shared footage of Hamas terrorists standing outside the central logistics compound for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Additional video showed one of the terrorists firing at civilians.

“Gunmen, likely Hamas terrorists, hanging out at an UNRWA warehouse in eastern Rafah a few days ago and identified by an IDF drone,” tweeted Lerner. “The U.N. needs to answer some serious questions. Imagine what would’ve happened if we were to target them? The hypocrisy is astounding.”

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The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit said in response to the video that it had called on the United Nations to conduct an “urgent investigation” into the matter.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz also shared the video on X, describing it as “Hamas terrorists firing at civilians from within a UNRWA facility next to U.N. vehicles in Rafah.”

Israeli forces are also active in northern Gaza, where they have returned to Jabalia and Zeitoun to quell a Hamas resurgence there.

On Wednesday morning, Israeli air defenses intercepted a projectile launched from the Jabalia area. The launch triggered sirens in several communities near the Gaza border.

No injuries or damage were reported.

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