Woman injured in 1st rocket fire on Beersheba since December

Four IDF soldiers killed as battles rage across Gaza; tanks said to advance into Rafah

Security cabinet said to approve measured expansion of op in southern part of Strip, risking clash with Biden; dozens of gunmen killed in fighting, tunnels found

(Clockwise from top left) Sgt. Itay Livny, Sgt. Yosef Dassa, Sgt. Daniel Levy and Sgt. Ermiyas Mekuriyaw who were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on May 10, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)
(Clockwise from top left) Sgt. Itay Livny, Sgt. Yosef Dassa, Sgt. Daniel Levy and Sgt. Ermiyas Mekuriyaw who were killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on May 10, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

Four Israeli soldiers were killed and several wounded as fierce battles raged across the Gaza Strip on Friday, while Hamas fired rockets at the southern city of Beersheba for the first time since December, lightly injuring a woman.

Israeli tanks reportedly advanced on a main road dividing the eastern and western halves of southern Gaza’s Rafah on Friday, amid heavy clashes taking place in the area, as well as in Gaza City in the north of the Strip.

The four soldiers were killed in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood. According to an initial IDF probe, they were hit by an explosive device or devices in an alleyway.

The troops had been raiding a school complex where the military had indications of Hamas activity. Weaponry and at least one tunnel were discovered in the area of the school.

The IDF has returned several times to the Zeitun neighborhood since the war’s outbreak, as Hamas has managed to regroup in areas previously cleared by the army.

The soldiers were identified as Sgt. Itay Livny, 19, from Ramat Hasharon; Sgt. Yosef Dassa, 19, from Kiryat Bialik;  Sgt. Ermiyas Mekuriyaw, 19, from Beersheba and Sgt. Daniel Levy, 19, from Kiryat Motzkin. All four were from the  Nahal Brigade’s 931st Battalion.

IDF soldiers under the Givati Brigade stand atop a tank in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, in a handout picture released on May 10, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Another officer and soldier of the 931st Battalion were seriously wounded in the same incident.

Their deaths bring the toll of slain troops in the IDF’s ground offensive in Gaza and amid operations on the border to 271.

Separately, another two soldiers of the 401st Armored Brigade’s 9th Battalion were seriously wounded by RPG fire on a tank in the Rafah area of southern Gaza.

When the Israel Defense Forces launched its operation in eastern Rafah late Monday, it said troops had captured part of the Salah a-Din road, along with the Rafah Crossing to Egypt.

According to a report by Reuters, it appeared that tanks had pushed further along the road on Friday, although still within a zone that the IDF ordered to be evacuated.

Residents described almost constant explosions and gunfire east and northeast of the city, with intense fighting between Israeli forces and operatives of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.

Hamas claimed to have ambushed Israeli tanks near a mosque in the east of the city, a sign the IDF had penetrated several kilometers from the east to the outskirts of the built-up area of the city.

The Israeli military said Friday that it had killed dozens of gunmen as it continued to operate in eastern Rafah, as well as in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood.

IDF soldiers under the Nahal Brigade operate in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, in a handout picture released on May 10, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel ordered civilians out of the eastern outskirts of Rafah earlier this week. The military has estimated that around 150,000 Palestinians in the east Rafah area have evacuated already.

Around a million more Palestinians, who fled other parts of the enclave during the war, remain in the city itself, and they have not been called to evacuate yet as the operation remains limited in scope amid hostage negotiations with Hamas.

Still, the security cabinet voted on Thursday night to approve a “measured” expansion of the IDF’s operation in Rafah, Hebrew media reported

The expansion was deemed as measured in what Israel hopes will not cross the line into what the United States deems as a “major operation.”

US President Joe Biden warned earlier this week that he would halt certain offensive weapons shipments to Israel if it entered into the population centers of Rafah due to concerns over the one million-plus civilians sheltering there.

The Axios news site cited two sources who say the expansion will be limited enough so as to not upset the Biden administration, while a third source warned the moves could be interpreted by the US as a step too far.

The security cabinet also voted to instruct Israel’s hostage negotiating team to continue its efforts to try and reach a hostage deal by putting together a new proposal in the hopes of reaching a breakthrough, Axios reported.

Far-right ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich voted against the decision but were outnumbered.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second right, leads a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 17, 2024. (Maayan Toaf / GPO)

In east Rafah, troops of the Givati Brigade located several tunnel shafts and killed dozens of gunmen, and the 401st Armored Brigade killed several more gunmen in close-quarters combat and by calling in airstrikes in the area of the Rafah Crossing with Egypt, the IDF said Friday.

The military also said the Air Force and 215th Artillery Regiment carried out several strikes in Rafah over the past day, targeting sites used by Hamas to launch rockets and mortars at troops and at Israel.

Rockets on Beersheba

Also Friday, five rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at the southern city of Beersheba, according to the IDF. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome while the other four hit open areas, it said.

A 37-year-old woman was lightly wounded by shrapnel, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said, adding that the woman was taken to Soroka Hospital for treatment.

Magen David Adom medics treat a woman lightly wounded by shrapnel from a Gaza rocket attack targeting Beersheba on May 10, 2024. (Magen David Adom)

The shrapnel also caused some damage to a city park. It was not immediately clear if it was caused by a direct impact or a large fragment that fell and caused the damage.

Hours later, a second barrage nine rockets were launched from Rafah Beersheba. The IDF said all nine rockets struck open area.

Hamas claimed the second barrage too.

The last time rockets were fired from at Beersheba, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Gaza, was in December.

Several mortars and rockets were also launched from the Rafah area at the southern border communities of Sufa, Kerem Shalom and Nir Yitzhak and at troops in Gaza on Friday.

Some of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, as sirens sounded in the border towns.

IDF troops operate in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, in a handout image released May 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Meanwhile, in Zeitoun, where the IDF launched a pinpoint operation early Thursday, the military said fighter jets struck several gunmen and Hamas sites, including a booby-trapped building.

The IDF reported that in recent days, Nahal troops killed several gunmen, including by calling in airstrikes, as well as captured weapons and intelligence materials in the Zeitoun area.

In central Gaza’s Netzarim Corridor, the IDF said reservists of the Yiftah Brigade spotted a cell of gunmen leaving a known weapons depot and moving toward the forces, before calling in an airstrike against them. The weapons depot and another operative in the area were targeted in separate strikes, the military said.

More than 40 more targets, including tunnels, anti-tank missile launch positions, buildings, observation posts and other infrastructure were struck by the Air Force in other areas of Gaza, the IDF adds.

Smoke billows from Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 9, 2024. (AFP)

In an unusual incident in southern Gaza on Friday, twelve soldiers were hurt after being stung by wasps, the military said. The incident occurred amid an operation by the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade in the border area, near the Israeli community of Nirim.

A tank had driven over a large wasp nest, leading thousands of insects to sting the troops. One of the soldiers was listed in moderate condition, and the other 11 were lightly hurt, the IDF said. They were taken to a hospital in Israel for treatment.

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 attacks, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

The ensuing war has killed over 34,800 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, though data issued by the Hamas-run authorities cannot be independently verified, and is believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

Israel has said it has killed some 15,000 terror operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7, while 271 soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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