IAF carries out first combat airdrop since 2006

7 soldiers killed, pushing Gaza ground op toll to 104; fighting rages in Khan Younis

45-year-old man injured in direct rocket impact in Holon in central Israel; military says Air Force hit dozens of Hamas operatives in Gaza over last day

IDF soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023: Top L-R Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, Cpt. (res.) Eliya Yanovsky, Master Sgt. (res.) Ari Yehiel Zenilman; bottom: Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani, Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, Maj. Gal Becher, and Maj. (res.) Roman Bronshtein. (Courtesy; combo image: Times of Israel)
IDF soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023: Top L-R Sgt. Maj. (res.) Etay Perry, Cpt. (res.) Eliya Yanovsky, Master Sgt. (res.) Ari Yehiel Zenilman; bottom: Sgt. Maj. (res.) Gideon Ilani, Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, Maj. Gal Becher, and Maj. (res.) Roman Bronshtein. (Courtesy; combo image: Times of Israel)

The Israel Defense Forces announced the death of seven more soldiers on Monday morning, six of whom were killed during fighting in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, bringing the toll of slain troops in the ground offensive against Hamas to 104.

The announcement was made amid ongoing heavy fighting in and around Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold in southern Gaza, and as Gaza terror groups fired more rockets into Israel, including a midday barrage at the center of the country in which a Holon man was injured by shrapnel.

Five of the soldiers belonged to the 5th Brigade’s 8111st Battalion and were killed when an explosive device was detonated near the force as they battled a terror cell near a school in the Khan Younis area.

The IDF said helicopter gunships and fighter jets were called in to carry out strikes against the terrorists who had opened fire from the school, adding that the Hamas operatives were killed and infrastructure in the area was destroyed.

The five soldiers were identified by the IDF as Maj. (res.) Roman Bronshtein, 46, from Bat Yam; Cpt. (res.) Eliya Yanovsky, 24, from Jerusalem; Master Sgt. (res.) Ari Yehiel Zenilman, 32, from Jerusalem; Sgt. Major (res.) Etay Perry, 36, from Modiin; and Maj. (res.) Eviatar Cohen, 42, from Kfar Saba.

Another four soldiers were wounded in the incident, including one in serious condition.

The sixth soldier killed in Gaza on Sunday was identified by the IDF as Sgt. Major (res.) Gideon Ilani, 35, of the 55th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade’s 2855th Battalion, from the West Bank settlement of Asa’el.

Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip in an undated photograph released December 11, 2023 (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF also announced the death of  Maj. Gal Becher, 34, of the 36th Division, from Oranit, who was killed in a military-related traffic collision in southern Israel.

The IDF said on Monday morning that it had airdropped some seven tons of equipment to hundreds of troops of the 98th Division’s Commando Brigade who are operating in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza.

It said that this was the first time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 that the military has airdropped equipment to troops. A video published by the IDF showed a C-130J transport aircraft of the Israeli Air Force’s 103rd Squadron making the nighttime drop.

Gaza residents reported heavy fighting in and around the southern city of Khan Younis overnight. The city has been a focal point of fighting between Israel and Hamas since the IDF expanded its ground operation to the south of the Strip in early December.

“The situation is extremely difficult,” said Hussein al-Sayyed, who is staying with relatives in Khan Younis after fleeing Gaza City earlier in the war. “I have children and I don’t know where to go. No place is safe.”

He and his three daughters are staying in a three-story home with around 70 others, most of whom have fled from the north, and said they have been rationing food for days. “Over many days, I have eaten just one meal a day to save food for the girls. They are still young,” he said.

The IDF has urged civilians to leave areas where there is fighting and take refuge in the al-Mawasi safe zone on the coast or at some 150 designated safe buildings, most of them run by the UN.

Smoke rises from the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis after an Israeli strike on Sunday, December 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

Also on Monday, the IDF said the IAF, directed by ground troops, killed dozens of Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip over the past day.

In one incident, the IDF said troops of the Bislamach Brigade and Border Defense Corps’ 636th Combat Intelligence Collection unit identified armed Hamas operatives in Gaza City’s Shejaiya in the north, and directed a drone strike.

The IDF released footage showing the strike.

In another incident, the military said that troops of the 7th Armored Brigade identified a group of gunmen exiting a health clinic and directed a strike at them.

Separately, the IDF said that troops of the 460th Armored Brigade discovered explosive devices and weapons inside a home in northern Gaza’s Jabaliya, some of them hidden inside bags bearing the UNRWA logo.

It added that the troops also found a truck full of long-range rockets near a school in the area.

Meanwhile, the 551st Brigade discovered a rocket launching site in Jabaliya, with some 50 launchers, some of them loaded, according to the IDF.

Rockets at central Israel

At around midday on Monday, terrorists in Gaza fired a barrage of rockets at the Tel Aviv area and central Israel. One of the rockets impacted in the central city of Holon, wounding one person and causing damage, medics said.

Footage from the scene showed damage to a road and several vehicles as a result of the direct impact.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it was treating a man aged 45 in light to moderate condition who was wounded by shrapnel.

Israeli security and rescue forces at the scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by Palestinian terrorists hit and caused damage in Holon, December 11, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israel’s war with Hamas began with the terror group’s shock onslaught on October 7 in which thousands of terrorists burst into southern Israel from the land, air and sea, killing more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians slaughtered in their homes, communities and at a music festival, and seizing some 240 hostages.

In response, Israel launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation through which the country has vowed to topple Hamas and end the terror group’s 16-year rule in the Strip.

It is believed that 138 hostages remain in Gaza after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November.  In recent days, the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 18 of those still held by Hamas, due to new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has claimed that since the start of the war, more than 17,500 people have been killed, mostly civilians. However, these figures cannot be independently verified and are believed to include some 7,000 Hamas terrorists, as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip set up a tent camp in the al-Mawasi area, Thursday, December 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

According to the UN, more than 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced since the start of the war, some of them more than once.

While Israel has urged people to seek refuge in the south, there are few safe places for civilians to go as the war continues to expand.

Al-Mawasi, a small slice of land stretching roughly 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) in southwest Gaza, has been designated as a safe zone by the IDF, although human rights organizations have called it insufficient.

In addition, mapping software deployed by the IDF to try to reduce civilian deaths was condemned as inadequate on Sunday by Lynn Hastings, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories.

“A unilateral declaration by an occupying power that patches of land where there is no infrastructure, food, water, health care, or hygiene are ‘safe zones’ does not mean they are safe,” she said.

Only 14 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are functioning at any capacity, according to the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA.

“Gaza’s health system is on its knees and collapsing,” said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as the agency called for immediate, unimpeded aid deliveries.

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