In multiple battles with terrorists in Gaza, 13 Golani Brigade soldiers were killed on Sunday, in the heaviest day of fighting since ground forces entered the Gaza Strip.
As of press time, the IDF released the names of two of the fallen soldiers, Oz Mendelovich and Sean Carmeli.
The total number of military fatalities in Operation Protective Edge stands at 18 Israelis.
The army is still in the process of identifying the bodies of the newly fallen. Some were killed in the Shejaia region of Gaza during clashes with Hamas terrorists who used civilian homes as positions from which to attack.
Oz Mendelovich, 21, was from the Atzmon community in the North. After hearing the news, friends eulogized his passing on Facebook. “You are an example to every child in the country who wants to protect the state,” a fellow soldier wrote commending his valor. Sean Carmeli, a native of South Padre Island, Texas, who lived in Ra’anana, enlisted in the IDF in February 2012, and has since devoted his life to Golani.
In one incident, which occurred 1:05 a.m. on Sunday morning, an armored personnel carrier (APC) carrying soldiers from Golani’s 13th Battalion drove over and detonated an explosive device, killing the seven board.
After 25 minutes, soldiers from the battalion engaged terrorists in a gun battle in Gaza, and one soldier was killed in the exchange of fire.
Shortly before 6 a.m. on Sunday, two soldiers were killed in a firefight with a terrorist cell.
At 8:50 a.m., three members of a Golani reconnaissance unit were killed when a fire tore through the building they were in.
Commenting on the heavy fighting underway in Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.
Benny Gantz said Sunday the army sustained high casualties over the past 24 hours.
Soldiers took part in “difficult and complex battles, but we are determined to complete the mission,” Gantz added.(Golani forces entering Gaza)
Addressing civilian casualties in the central Gazan area of Shejaia, Gantz said Palestinian residents know they have “fallen victim to Hamas’s [war] preparations in their area.
I’m very sorry for civilians that have been harmed. It hurts me to see women and children who have been hit.
There is no other state in the world that sets up a field hospital, during combat, on behalf of the side it is fighting.”
Ground forces are making gains and are seizing target areas, the chief of staff stated, adding that Hamas was sustaining blows “every hour.”
The IDF will not be deterred by the difficult combat it saw over the past 24 hours, Gantz said. While the conflict should be kept as short as possible, Israel’s targets in improving security for its civilians must be met, he added.
Col. Rasan Alian, commander of the Golani Brigade, was moderately wounded in an exchange of fire in Gaza. He has been released from the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.
Dozens of wounded IDF soldiers were airlifted from battlefields in Gaza to a number of hospitals across Israel on Sunday morning.
In total, 53 wounded Israeli soldiers have been hospitalized.
Fifteen soldiers were brought to the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva. Four were in serious condition and 11 were in light to moderate condition.
Two lightly wounded soldiers were brought to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem.
Three soldiers were brought in moderate condition to Soroka, and two others were brought with light wounds.
Four wounded soldiers were brought to Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.
Two of the evacuees were in serious condition, one was in serious to moderate condition and another was in moderate condition.
On Saturday, two soldiers were killed in the Gaza Strip.
St.-Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, a 20-year-old soldier from Holon, serving in the 101st.
Paratroopers Battalion, was shot dead by a terrorist in Gaza who emerged from a tunnel shaft and opened fire. The terrorist was killed in return fire.
The second soldier, Sec.-Lt.
Bar Rahav, 21, from Ramat Yishai, part of the Engineering Corps, was killed in an attack in Gaza.
Also on Saturday, two soldiers were killed by a rocket- propelled grenade while thwarting an attempt to murder Israeli civilians.
Their names were Sgt. Adar Barsano, 20, of Nahariya, and Maj. Amotz Greenberg, 45, of Hod Hasharon, the army said.
On Friday, in the IDF’s first casualty, 20-year-old St.-Sgt.
Eitan Barak from Herzliya was killed in Gaza under still unclear circumstances.
Military sources said Hamas gunmen have increased their attacks on soldiers who are searching and finding tunnel entrances in Palestinian homes near the border with Israel.
Simultaneously, Hamas has ordered its members to use remaining tunnels for immediate cross-border attacks against Israeli civilians and military targets.
Noa Amouyal and Lidar Gravé- Lazi contributed to this report