15 soldiers killed in bloodiest day of war

Most IDF dead Wednesday killed by anti-tank missiles; At least 40 Hizbullah gunmen killed; IDF moves into eastern towns.

IDF in Lebanon 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF in Lebanon 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Fifteen IDF soldiers were killed in fighting in south Lebanon. Thirty-one soldiers were wounded during the battles, five of whom were listed in serious condition. Another 10 soldiers were reported injured moderately. The names of five of the reservists were released for publication on Thursday morning.
IDF troops, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, entered the south Lebanon town of Marjayoun early Thursday, witnesses said. Residents said the soldiers took up positions at the northern entrances of the Christian town, located about 9 kilometers from the border with Israel. The troops met no resistance as they pushed their way in, the witnesses said. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here Nine reserve infantry soldiers from an elite unit including Cap. Shtukelman and Sgt. -Maj. Kubelik were killed on Wednesday afternoon when an anti-tank missile was fired at the house they were stationed in during clashes with Hizbullah forces in the village of Dbil in the western sector of south Lebanon. Four reservists from the 847th Brigade were killed when an anti-tank missile hit their tank during a fierce gun battle in the south Lebanese village of Ayta al-Shaab in the western sector. Among them were Sgt. -Maj. Goldman and Cap. Schmucher. Another soldier, Sgt. -Maj. Shamidov, was killed in a mortar attack in Kliya south of Marjayoun in south Lebanon. On Wednesday morning, one soldier was killed, two were seriously wounded and two others were lightly wounded when an IDF tank crew exchanged fire with an IDF infantry reserve force on Wednesday morning. The friendly fire incident took place in the village of Atayba in south Lebanon during which infantry troops opened fire on a Lebanese home that fellow IDF tank men were stationed in. Immediately after the event, troops operating in Atayba were ordered to suspend their gunfire activity. Clashes between the IDF and the Hizbullah resumed in Atayba later Wednesday afternoon. There have been several incidents of friendly fire since the launch of Operation Change of Direction last month. One case involved an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that opened fire on troops in the south Lebanese village of Bint Jbail. At least 40 Hizbullah gunmen were killed in the fighting. During IDF operations in the village of Rajamin, reserve forces killed nine Hizbullah guerrillas and wounded two. Earlier, a Golani soldier was moderately wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the Hizbullah in Bint Jbail. The IAF targeted Hizbullah headquarters in the city, killing 10 guerrillas. Later on, IDF troops killed another eight guerillas in the same town. Meanwhile, a top Hizbullah official, Hassan A-Sader, and an additional four people were killed by an IAF airstrike on Wednesday morning in the Lebanese city of Masjara. The other four other people were suspected to be A-Sader's family. A reservist force operating in the village of Ayta a-Shaab on Wednesday killed two Hizbullah gunmen as well. On Wednesday, the air force and navy renewed attacks on Beirut, hitting four buildings, including one belonging to Hizbullah's Al-Manar television. On Tuesday night, the IAF carried out 120 airstrikes on Lebanese targets, attacking close to 80 buildings and headquarters of Hizbullah. Also targeted were four rocket launchers, 25 roads, several vehicles and seven bridges, mostly along the Litani river. Also on Tuesday night, two IDF soldiers were killed in an operation in the south Lebanese village of Bint Jbail, the IDF announced early Wednesday. The two were identified as St.-Sgt. Oren Lifshitz, 21, of Gazit and St.-Sgt. Moran Cohen, 21, of Ashdot Ya'akov. They belonged to a force from the Paratroopers Brigade that was engaged in fierce firefights in the village. One of the soldiers was seriously wounded when the force came under heavy fire from a group of Hizbullah guerrillas. The second soldier was hit during the evacuation of the first when Hizbullah forces fired at the rescue squad. A third soldier was lightly wounded in the second gun battle. The rescue operation lasted several hours, during which the soldier who was seriously wounded died of his wounds. At least 20 Hizbullah guerrillas were killed in the operation.