(photo credit: Associated Press)
Three IDF soldiers from the Golani brigade were killed before dawn Friday in heavy clashes with Hizbullah guerrillas in the village of Markabe in the eastern sector of southern Lebanon.
The third fatality who was killed in the battle was an army officer, details released for publication on Friday evening revealed.
For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here
One of the fallen soldiers was identified as St.-Sgt. Daniel Shiran, 20, from Haifa. His funeral was held at 3 p.m. in the city's military cemetery. The second was identified as St.- Sgt. Omri Chaim Elmakayes-Ya'akobovitch, 20, from Ramle. He will be laid to rest on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the military cemetary in Ramle.
The IDF said that the soldiers from battalion 13 suffered heavy losses after Hizbullah gunmen opened fire at troops operating in the village with a wave of anti-tank rockets and machine guns.
An officer was seriously wounded and taken to the Rambam hospital in Haifa.
Army troops killed at least 15 Hizbullah operatives on Friday: 4 at Shama, 2 terror cells (usually comprising of 2-3 men) and 7 in Markabe.
Forces also struck a car carrying Hizbullah reinforcements to Markabe.
Elsewhere, two soldiers were wounded, one seriously, after an anti-tank rocket hit their D9 bulldozer in the village of Ataybeh, in the eastern sector of southern Lebanon. One of the wounded was part of an engineering force operating in the area.
The soldiers were taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
IDF forces took several of the Hizbullah operatives captive.
The IDF also continued to call on residents of southern Lebanon to leave their homes, with emphasis on the villages of Beit Lif and el-Haniyah, and to head north of the Litani river. The IDF said that whoever refused to obey the order would be risking their lives.
The army also said that Ataybeh was used as launching pad for Katyushas that were fired at Israel and caused casualties.
During the fighting in Ataybeh, the IDF killed at least seven Hizbullah terrorists, blew up several weapons warehouses, and neutralized a Katyusha launcher that was pointed at the Israeli border community of Misgav Am. IDF forces also found a large weapons cache in the area, and destroyed a car bringing reinforcements to the Hizbullah.
Since the IDF began operating in Ataybeh, troops have killed over 20 Hizbullah terrorists in the village. Over the past few days, troops have discovered anti-tank missiles, RPGs, explosives, and a Katyusha launcher ready to be fired at Israel.