Druze Arab Israeli Commander Killed in Action in Deadliest Gaza Day in Months

16 June 2024, Israel, Beit Jann: Friends and family mourn during the funeral of Israeli so
Ilia Yefimovitch / picture alliance via Getty

A Druze Arab Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officer, Captain Wassem Mahmoud, was killed Saturday in Rafah, in southern Gaza, along with seven other soldiers, when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an explosive device.

IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said (translated by IDF):

Tonight we delivered the hardest news to the families of eight IDF soldiers who fell in action in Gaza. Captain Wassem Mahmoud, Deputy Company Commander, and seven of his soldiers fell early this morning during an operation in Tel al-Sultan in Rafah. In the early morning, with the completion of the operation on the northwestern part of the area, infantry, armored and engineering troops from the 401st Brigade entered the area in convoys of armored fighting vehicles in order to position themselves in the contact lines. According to the information we have at this stage, a powerful explosion occurred in one of the engineering vehicles in the convoy, seemingly caused by an explosive device planted in the area or as a result of anti-tank missile fire. Inside the armored vehicle were the eight soldiers who were killed.

Two other IDF soldiers, both reservists, were killed in northern Gaza when their tank was hit by an explosive device. Another soldier, wounded days earlier in a blast in a booby-trapped building in Rafah, died of his wounds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a nation in mourning:

Citizens of Israel, today we paid a heart-rending price in our just war in defense of our homeland. With deep sorrow, and in heavy mourning, I bow my head together with all citizens of Israel and weep over the fall of our heroic fighters: Deputy company commander in an engineering battalion, Capt. Wassem Mahmoud and additional heroic soldiers whose names have yet to be released.

Our hearts are shattered before this terrible loss. The entire people of Israel embraces the dear families in their most difficult hour of grief. I stand by our brave fighters and commanders, who are imbued with the sacred mission to defeat our enemies and return our hostages.

When the price is so heavy, let us remember what we are fighting for: We are fighting to ensure our existence and our future. We are fighting to return all of our hostages.

This difficult war was forced upon us by an abhorrent and murderous enemy. On Simchat Torah, the Hamas monsters invaded our kibbutzim, our communities, our cities, and the festival of young people who desired only good. They butchered, raped, beheaded, burned, dismembered and abducted our brothers and sisters – infants and children, women and men, the young and the old.

This monstrous enemy has no intention of stopping here. Together with the other parts of Iran’s axis of evil, it will continue trying to destroy us. If we do not stop it – it will not stop. Therefore, there is no alternative to victory.

Citizens of Israel, do not let anyone distract you from one clear and simple fact: Despite the heavy and unsettling price, we must cling to the goals of the war: The destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the return of all of our hostages, making certain that Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israel and the return of our residents securely to their homes in both the north and the south.

We are in the midst of a very difficult war. The war is being conducted on several fronts, including the international front. We are ready for many additional challenges. It is at this time that we must show our people’s strength of spirit, thanks to which we have overcome all of our enemies. So it will be this time as well. ‘It is a time of trouble for Jacob but out of it he shall be saved.’ (Jeremiah 30:7)

Together we will fight and with G-d’s help, together we will win.

Many Druze Arabs are drafted into the IDF and serve with distinction.

The day was the deadliest since January, when 21 IDF soldiers were killed by the collapse of a booby-trapped building.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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