Why was an elite IDF officer killed in Gaza?

Lt.-Col "M" was killed in firefight with Palestinian militants in Khan Yunis.

November 12, 2018 12:26
2 minute read.
An image released by Hamas, claiming to show the gear of an IDF soldier killed during an operation

An image released by Hamas, claiming to show the gear of an IDF soldier killed during an operation on November 11th, 2018. Picture published November 12th, 2018. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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His heroic actions will not be published in the media.
Nor will his name.

Lt.-Col. M, who belonged to an elite IDF force, was killed in the Gaza Strip late Sunday night in an operation that went badly wrong.

According to reports, the force had infiltrated three kilometers into the Hamas-run enclave, into the city of Khan Yunis, before being exposed to Palestinian terrorists who then engaged them in battle, killing the 41-year-old father of two from northern Israel.

Seven Palestinians were killed by Israel Air Force strikes carried out to help exfiltrate the special forces.

While initial reports out of Gaza said that the raid was an assassination operation, the IDF flatly denied the reports, saying it was a “lengthy operation,” which was “of high importance to Israel’s security.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “no political solution exists for Gaza, just as there isn’t one with ISIS” and that he is doing everything he can to avoid “unnecessary war.”

Netanyahu, who was in Paris for World War I centenary events, flew back to Israel earlier than expected following the event, indicating the severity of the incident.

The former head of the Southern Command, Maj.-Gen (res.) Tal Russo, who has also participated in numerous commando operations and rarely makes media appearances, told Channel 10 that the operation was likely intelligence gathering.

“Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region. This action – an operation that was apparently exposed – wasn’t an assassination attempt. We have other ways of assassinating people and we know how to do it much more elegantly,” he said.

Russo’s explanation sounds reasonable, as Israel carries out operations beyond its borders on a regular basis.

The operation could have been related to intelligence gathering on Hamas’s tunnel system, as the senior Hamas terrorist killed in the operation was identified as the Khan Yunis commander Sheikh Nur Barakeh, who was reported to be involved with Hamas’s tunnel program.

It could have also been related to intelligence gathering on missing IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians held captive in the Strip.
Destroyed car allegedly used by Israeli special forces in Gazan city of Khan Yunis, November 12, 2018 (Palestinian Press Agency)

Assassination or intelligence gathering, the timing of the operation was interesting, with Israel and Hamas reported to be on the cusp of signing a long-term cease-fire agreement.

Following the deadly incident, Palestinians fired 17 projectiles into southern Israel with three of them intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile Defense system.

Unlike past rocket launches, Israel did not respond with any retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

It’s as if the IDF knew they may have killed the cease-fire.

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