Four IDF soldiers killed in mortar shell attack near Gaza border

IDF released the names of four troops killed in attack; fifth soldier killed in combat.

On a day that began with another attempt at a humanitarian cease-fire, four IDF soldiers were killed on the Gaza border by a Hamas mortar attack and another soldier was killed in a separate battle, the army announced Monday evening.

It named St.-Sgt. Moshe Davino, 20, from Jerusalem as the soldier killed in battle. Davino, a Givati infantry soldier, was killed when a terrorist cell fired an anti-tank missile at a D-9 armored bulldozer he was in, on Monday afternoon. Soldiers identified eight terrorists in a nearby home that fired the missile, and used a second D-9 bulldozer to demolish it, killing all eight attackers inside.Davino was posthumously promoted.The four soldiers killed by the mortar belonged to the 7th Armored Brigade. They had been in a staging area in the Eshkol region when they were killed. The mortar attack represented the deadliest incident of cross-border shelling from Gaza since the beginning of the IDF’s operation to suppress Hamas rocket fire and tunnel attacks on southern regions. The IDF released the names of four soldiers late Monday night who were posthumously promoted.  Their names are: St.Sgt. Eliav Eliyahu Haim Kahlon, 22 of Safed; Private First Class Meidan Maymon Biton, 20 of Netivot; Private First Class Niran Cohen, 20 of Tiberias; and Sgt. First Class Adi Briga, 23 of Beit Shikma.  Forty eight soldiers and officers have been killed since the start of the ground offensive this month.Earlier, on Monday morning, a Palestinian sniper fired on a soldier from the IDF’s 401st Armored Brigade who was in Israel near the Gazan border, striking him in the shoulder and injuring him.On Monday evening, terrorists entered Israel via a cross-border tunnel from Gaza, surfacing in the Nahal Oz area.Soldiers detected the terrorist cell and opened fire, killing one Gazan attacker.The army is searching for additional terrorists.The mortar attack came as the IDF warned residents of the Gazan districts of Shejaia, Zeitun, and east Jabalya to immediately vacate their homes, as well as residents of Beit Hanun, Beit Lahiya, and central Jabalya.At the beginning of the day, Hamas had announced a 24-hour truce to mark the holiday of Id al-Fitr, and Israel said it would only shoot if fired upon. However, the air force resumed strikes on Hamas targets across Gaza, in response to ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks.On the ground, the IDF has completed the destruction of around 60 percent of Hamas tunnels, and will require an additional week to destroy the remaining network, most of which has been located.According to evaluations within the IDF, Hamas is now under pressure from Gazan civilians to end the conflict, and it is aware of the fact that its tunnels are being systematically destroyed.IDF officials have seen a change in Hamas’s demands over the past 48 hours, when the Gazan regime went from refusing a cease-fire, to setting conditions, to requesting a humanitarian cease-fire.Officials interpret these quickly changing positions as a reflection of Hamas’s growing distress and deteriorating situation.In Gaza, IDF soldiers continued to destroy tunnels, encountering armed clashes with Hamas cells in the process.Soldiers found one tunnel on Monday that was 18 meters deep.The 7th Armored Brigade discovered a tunnel nearly 2 km.long, stretching from Gaza to near Kibbutz Be’eri. The tunnel is set to be destroyed soon.Three tunnels were recently discovered that connect northern Gaza to southern Israel; two have been blown up and the remaining one will be destroyed shortly. An additional tunnel was found near Kibbutz Nir Am.Further south, the 401st Armored Division found and destroyed three tunnels that began in the Shejaia region and an additional underground passage heading towards Kibbutz Nahal Oz was demolished.In southern Gaza, the IDF located several tunnel shafts, and is in the process of mapping out their subterranean routes. Two tunnels were destroyed in the Kerem Shalom region and a further two were made unusable.Of the 40 percent of tunnels that remain intact, half are earmarked for imminent destruction.The IDF is in the initial stages of destroying and mapping out the remainder.On Monday morning the government ordered the IDF to observe a humanitarian truce, but allowed it to continue to map out and destroy tunnels.“We are mapping out this tunnel system and we are learning more all the time,” a senior IDF source said.Tunnels are mapped out by inserting explosives deep into them, setting them off, and tracking the route of the passage, the source said.A majority of the tunnels found recently reach into Israel, he added.He spoke after a calm overnight period, during which the IDF brought in 100 trucks carrying food, agricultural material, medicine, medical equipment and fuels for the Gazan civilian population.The source said the IDF encountered a great number of bomb-laden booby-trapped homes, with a remote activation mechanism, designed to cause homes to collapse on soldiers after they enter.IDF ground forces have found and destroyed many underground rocket launchers.