‘Always the first to defend’: Naming those slain in Hamas’s surprise onslaught

The hundreds dead across southern Israel include a senior officer, a regional mayor, and kids in Bedouin communities without shelters who were killed by rockets

Graves prepared at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, October 8, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Graves prepared at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, October 8, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

At least 800 people were killed Saturday as Hamas terrorists in Gaza launched a war on Israel, infiltrating towns, rampaging through military positions, shooting travelers dead on roads and firing thousands of rockets at a wide swath of the country in a shocking assault.

The dead included civilians and soldiers, young rave-goers mowed down as they fled through fields of yellowing grass, residents of kibbutzim and towns overrun by Hamas gunmen, a senior officer rushing to the front lines, a local politician killed trying to defend homes, soldiers caught off-guard or overpowered by the brutal onslaught, a rescuer and firemen, elderly Israelis at a bus stop, workers and holidaymakers traveling on normally peaceful roads, young children pulverized by rockets.

With the IDF maintaining control over the area on Monday, the dead have been identified and their stories only beginning to be told. This article will continue to be updated as additional victims are named and more details released.

Col. Jonathan Steinberg

The commanding officer of the Nahal Infantry Brigade, Col. Jonathan Steinberg, was killed Saturday morning during clashes with Hamas terrorists in the Kerem Shalom area near the border with the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Steinberg, from the southern town of Shomria, was en route to the site of clashes being managed by his subordinates when he was killed by a terrorist in an encounter.

Col. Jonathan Steinberg, the commander of the Nahal Brigade, in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)

He is one of the most senior Israeli officers to have been killed in combat in recent memory.

On Sunday, the IDF released the names of 25 other soldiers also killed in the attack.

Ofir Libstein

The head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, Ofir Libstein, was killed during fighting with Hamas terrorists Saturday morning, the council said in a statement.

“Ofir was killed when he went to defend a town during the terrorist attack,” the council said.

Ofir Libstein, head of Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, attends a convention of newly elected mayors and heads of local councils, in Ashkelon, November 27, 2018. (Flash90)

Shai Hajaji, a friend and the head of the nearby Merhavim Regional Council, said Libstein was “always the first to defend residents of the council.”

“In death, as in life, Ofir was an exemplar of an ethical public figure fighting for his residents, even if it endangered his life,” Hajaji said in comments carried by Channel 12 news.

Aharon Haimov

Aharon Haimov, 25, was shot and killed as he drove an ambulance to his hometown of Ofakim to help treat victims of the assault, the Magen David Adom (MDA) rescue group said.

Haimov was a senior paramedic who began his career with MDA as a post-high school volunteer.

Aharon Haimov (Courtesy MDA)

He later joined the organization in a professional capacity as an emergency medicine paramedic and ambulance driver.

He died after being shot in an MDA ambulance by Palestinian terrorists as he was on his way to treat victims in his hometown of Ofakim as the coordinated attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza unfolded.

In a statement, MDA said the married father of two always performed his duties in an exemplary way and was the first to respond to emergency events.

“He was a person who put the good of others and the value of life ahead of everything else — including today, on this tragic morning,” said MDA director-general Eli Bin.

Captain Shalom Tzaban

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services say the head of the Kiryat Gat station, Cpt. Shalom Tzaban, and a senior firefighter from the Netivot station, Yevgeny Galsky, were among those killed in the Hamas terrorist attack on southern Israel October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

Cpt. Shalom Tzaban, 60, the head of the Kiryat Gat station, was killed Saturday, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services said.

Tzaban, 60, a father of two, was drafted into the fire service in 1992. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of deputy fire chief.

Yevgeny Galsky

Yevgeny Galsky, 34, a senior firefighter from the Netivot station, was killed Saturday morning, the fire service said.

Galsky joined the force three years ago. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant firefighter.

Arik Yehuda Marciano

Arik Yehuda Marciano, 50, a squad commander at the Kiryat Gat fire station, was also killed during the Hamas attack.

Marsel Taliya

A resident of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Araba, Taliya was killed in Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha where she was staying as a guest for the holiday.

15 in Netiv Ha’asara

View of a concrete wall in the Israeli farming community of Netiv Ha’asara, December 12, 2014 (Doron Horowitz/FLASH90)

Netiv Ha’asara, a small farming town on the Gaza border, named 15 residents killed in the Hamas attack. It did not release details about the circumstances of their deaths.

They are:
Amit Wax

Yigal Wax
Adi Baharav
Tal Keren
Oren Stern
Ruti Akuni
Aryeh Akuni
Or Akuni
Orit Molcho
Shlomi Molcho
Nurit Berger
Havik Segal
Marina Almagor
Gil Ta’asa
Dani Vovek

Hana Ben Artzi

Hana Ben Artzi, 69, from the Kfar Aviv agricultural community near Ashdod, was killed by a rocket. Ben Artzi was a member of the community’s emergency team and had left her home to open a communal bomb shelter when she was killed by a rocket that landed nearby.

She is survived by three children and six grandchildren.

Two in Kerem Shalom

Israel Amichai Vitzan and Moshe Yedidya Raziel (Rosenberg) were killed in Kerem Shalom. They were both residents of the West Bank settlement of Psagot.

Nine in Bedouin communities

Rockets are fired from Gaza City toward Israel on October 7, 2023. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Nine people, including a number of children, were killed when rockets struck their communities in the northern Negev, which do not have shelters, according to local authorities.

In Arara, Yazan Zakaria Abu Jama was killed when a rocket landed near his home. In Alba’at, brothers Malek Ibrahim Alkra’an, 14, and Jawad Ibrahim Alkra’an, 15, were killed in a direct strike. Alba’at cousins Amin Akal Alkra’an, 11, and Mahmoud Diab Alkra’an, 12, were also killed. Faiza Abu Sabaakh, 57, and her granddaughter May Zuheir Abu Sabaakh, 13, were also killed in Alba’at.

Arara resident Fatima Altilakat, 35, was also killed by gunfire near Ofakim, and Dalia Abu Madyam, in her 30s, from Rahat, was killed while working in the Gaza border area, under unclear circumstances.

Israel Police officers

The names and ranks of 30 Israel Police officers who died in combat Saturday were released Sunday morning.

They are:

Deputy superintendent Ge-ar Davidov, commander Rahat station, Southern Region
Deputy superintendent Yitzhak Bazuka Shvili, commander Regev Shalom station, Southern Region
Superindentent Martin Kozmichekis, ‘M’ division in coordination of enforcement operations
Superintendent Shlomo Moshe El, officer in special division in fighting terror, special police unit
Superintendent Nisim Lugasi, deputy commander, rural assault unit from Southern Region
Superintendent Amin Ohonadov, team commander in Yoav unit, Southern Region
Inspector Andrei Poshivi, town station patrol officer, Southern Region
Inspector Alexei Shamkov, officer in the special unit for combating terrorism, (special police unit)
Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Meir Abragil, Sderot station investigation coordinator, Southern Region
Sergeant Major Chen Nahmias, sniper in the special unit for combating terrorism, (special police unit)
Sergeant Major Roman Gendel, Lt. instructor, tactical division Border Police
Sergeant Major Yehuda Kedar, noncommissioned officer, Eshkol Ein Habesor, Southern Border Police
Sergeant Major Roni Avuharon, Rahat detective, Southern Region
Sergeant Major Adir Shlomo, head of logistics headquarters at Sderot station, Southern Region
Sergeant Major Yigal Iluz, bomb sapper, Southern Region

Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Bar Sivan, fighter in the special unit for combating terrorism, special police unit
Advanced Staff Sergeant Alon Barad, investigator in Rahat station, Southern Region
Advanced Staff Sergeant Alexei Borodovsky, Negev Yasam patrol, Southern Region
Advanced Staff Sergeant Vitaly Karsi, forensics department crime scene investigator, Tel Aviv Region
Advanced Staff Sergeant Alec Pozniakov, detective Magen unit, Southern Region
Advanced Staff Sergeant Melik Karim, investigator Beersheba station, Southern Region
Advanced Staff Sergeant Yoram Eliyahu Cohen, fighter in special unit for combating terrorism, special police unit
Staff Sergeant Major Dror Elton, sapper in special unit for combating terrorism, special police unit
Staff Sergeant Yaakov Shlomo Karsninski, fighter in undercover unit, Southern Border police
Sergeant Major Avi Buzaglo, detective Rahat station, Southern Region
Sergeant Major Michael Lizmi, detective Beersheba station, Southern Region
Sergeant Major Shai El Knafo, town patrol, Southern Region
Staff Sergeant Elina Astafniko, town patrol Ofakim, Southern Region
Police chief Ravit Hana Assiyag, fighter, interior security, Southern Border Patrol

The Eshkol regional council in the northwestern Negev, in Israel’s Southern District, bounded on the west by the Gaza Strip, published a list of 48 residents killed Saturday in the Gaza border communities:


Dvir Karp was killed by a Hamas terrorist in front of his tow children. The terrorist wrote on the wall with lipstick, “The people of Al Kassam don’t murder small children.”
Amit Gabai
Yuval Gabai
Pavar Asaf
Varda Haramati


Shlomi Matias
Shahar Matias
Meir Elharar
Liz Elharar
Lily Keisman
Rolan Sultan
Ronit Sultan
Moshe Ridler
Petro Busko
Tehila Katabi
Hayim Katsman, 32, a lecturer on philosophy, politics and Israeli society, was killed in Kibbutz Holit. His uncle, Abe Katsman, described him in a Facebook post as a “musician, mechanic, horticulturist, writer, academic/PhD, and a very good grandson to my father.”


Tom Gudo
Gina Smiatitz
Ofer Ron
Menuha Holati
Saar Margolies
Eti Zak
Itai Zak
Sagi Zak

Nir Yitzhak: Ofek Arazi, Yaron Shahar

Sufa: Ido Hubara, Bernard Cohen, Ophir Erez

Shlomit: Reuven Shishportish, Aviad Cohen

Kerem Shalom: Amitai Vitsan, Yedida Raziel


Dan Asulin
Chen Ben Avi
Dor Nahum
Tal Maman


Gil Avital
Lior Ben Yaakov
Itai Nahmias

Ein Habesor: Yehuda Kedar

Magen: Avi Fleisher, Sade Nitzan, Dodi Tourgeman

Yuval: Avi Tzidon

Ohad: Rudy Skrisavisky

Beeri: Adi Dagan

Talmei Yosef: Stav Kimhi

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