IDF: Soldier killed amid raid at Gaza’s Shifa hospital; 480 terror operatives nabbed

Military announces death of Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv, 21, says more than half of those detained so far at medical center confirmed as members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad

Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv. (IDF)
Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv. (IDF)

The Israel Defense Forces announced Sunday the death of a soldier killed during an ongoing raid against Hamas at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, where the military said it has so far identified and detained hundreds of confirmed terror group members hiding within the medical facility.

Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv was killed Saturday during the operation targeting Hamas terrorists at Shifa, the IDF said.

Raviv, 21, of the Nahal Brigade’s 932nd Battalion, was from the central city of Rishon Lezion.

Raviv is the 252nd IDF soldier to be killed during the ground operation in Gaza since the start of the war, which was triggered by Hamas’s devastating October 7 attack on Israel, and the third in the renewed operation at Shifa. He is survived by his parents and three siblings.

Speaking to Army Radio, Raviv’s mother Shirli said her son was “a strong leader.”

“I always relied on him in every situation that he knew what to do,” she said. “He had an especially good heart. So many friends, his siblings all admired him.”

IDF troops operate in the area of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, in a handout image published March 23, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Shirli said that Raviv had been selected to command a group of recruits still in training, but when the war broke out he was called to the front lines.

He was slated to be buried on Sunday afternoon at the Rishon Lezion military cemetery.

In a statement, Raviv’s battalion said that he was a soldier “of the first order, ethical, modest and excellent in everything he did.”

The IDF’s nearly weeklong operation at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital is ongoing, with the military saying that among some 800 suspects detained by troops so far, 480 of them have been confirmed to be members of the Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.

Troops also located infrastructure and caches of weapons belonging to terror groups over the past day, the IDF said.

Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived in a five-story building about 100 meters from the hospital, told The Associated Press he huddled in the kitchen for days while gunfire and explosions sometimes caused the building to shake.

He said Israeli troops stormed the building early Saturday and forced dozens of residents to leave. He added that men were forced to strip to their underwear and four were detained. The rest were allegedly blindfolded and ordered to follow a tank south as blasts thundered around them.

“From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” Hathat told The Associated Press from another hospital where he has sought shelter. “It was to terrorize us,” he alleged.

Jameel al-Ayoubi, among thousands of people sheltering at Shifa when the current raid began, said in a phone interview that tanks and armored bulldozers had plowed into the hospital courtyard, crushing ambulances and civilian vehicles. He said he saw tanks driving over at least four bodies of people killed early in the raid.

Palestinians inspect the damage of residential buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Abed Radwan, who lived about 200 meters from the hospital, told The Associated Press that Israeli forces stormed all area buildings, detaining several people and forcing the rest to march south. As he walked, he said he saw bodies in the streets and several flattened homes.

“They left nothing intact,” he added, speaking from a relative’s house in central Gaza.

The head of Israel’s southern command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, has called the Shifa raid a “daring, tricky and most impressive operation,” saying it will end “when the last terrorist is in our hands, alive or dead.”

Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of embedding itself among the civilian population in Gaza, including using hospitals and medical centers as part of its military operations. The IDF has provided evidence it says backs up the claims and that would make Israeli raids on hospitals legitimate under international law.

IDF soldiers are seen operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo released on March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Meanwhile, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck some 65 targets in northern and central Gaza over the previous day, which the IDF said was part of support for maneuvering ground forces. The targets, according to the IDF update on operations in Gaza, included an attack tunnel, buildings used by Hamas where terror operatives were gathered and other infrastructure.

A strike in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis targeted a site used as a staging ground where several operatives were gathered, the IDF said, while a building in northern Gaza’s Beit Hanoun, which was a threat to troops, was targeted by another aircraft.

In central Gaza, the IDF said troops of the Nahal Brigade killed several Hamas gunmen over the past 24 hours, including with sniper fire.

Nahal troops also raided a drone manufacturing lab in central Gaza, where the IDF said soldiers killed several gunmen.

IDF troops raid a drone manufacturing lab in central Gaza, in a handout image published by the military on March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

In southern Gaza, the 7th Armored Brigade killed several gunmen with sniper fire, combat engineers destroyed a rocket launcher, and an aircraft struck infrastructure belonging to a terror group.

The IDF and Shin Bet security agency said the military also launched a new offensive against Hamas in the Al-Amal neighborhood of southern Gaza’s Khan Younis overnight.

The raid, led by the 98th Division, is aimed at “continuing dismantling the terror infrastructure and eliminating terrorists in the area,” the IDF said.

As the operation began, Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes against some 40 Hamas targets in the area, including buildings used by the terror group, tunnels, and additional infrastructure. The division’s Commando Brigade, Givati Infantry Brigade, and 7th Armored Brigade then encircled Al-Amal, where they are currently battling Hamas gunmen.

The IDF previously operated in the al-Amal area last month.

The military also provided updates on its ongoing operation against Hamas in southern Gaza’s al-Qarara, close to Khan Younis, where troops have targeted sites belonging to the terror group near the border with Israel.

The IDF said troops located and destroyed caches of weapons and several sites belonging to Hamas, killed numerous gunmen with tank shelling, and “neutralized the threat adjacent to the [border] fence.”

During the raid, a Hamas weapons depot with a tunnel shaft beneath it was targeted in a helicopter strike.

Ahead of the operation, the IDF said the Air Force struck several sites and Hamas operatives who were gathered at hideout apartments and near troops in the al-Qarara area.

A picture taken in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 7, 2023, shows an Israeli fighter jet dropping flares over Gaza. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

The Hamas-run health ministry said Sunday that at least 32,226 Palestinians have been killed and 74,518 have been wounded in Gaza since October 7, an unverified figure which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel says said it has killed more than 13,000 Hamas members in Gaza fighting.

Israel launched its war against Hamas after the terror group’s devastating attack on southern Israel on October 7, in which it killed close to 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 253 hostage, half of whom remain in the Strip.

The war has devastated most areas in Gaza creating a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis as aid deliveries struggle to supply the coastal enclave’s over two million residents. Indirect talks for a temporary ceasefire that would include the release of hostages are ongoing in Doha, Qatar, with the participation of local, Egyptian and US mediators, but so far have not produced an agreement.

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