Israeli authorities confirmed Wednesday morning that a hostage kidnapped to Gaza by Hamas-led terrorists on October 7 had been killed that day, as the military separately announced that three soldiers were killed Tuesday in battles in the Strip.
The Israel Police announced the death of Sgt. First Class Ran Gvili, saying he was killed by Hamas during its October 7 massacre, with his body subsequently abducted to Gaza.
Gvili, of the Yasam patrol unit in the police’s Negev district, was killed in battle against terrorists in the community of Alumim during the Hamas onslaught.
On Tuesday, Gvili’s death was declared by the chief rabbi and a team of rabbinical and health experts, based on updated findings and intelligence information.
His death brought the toll of slain police officers in the war to 61, the vast majority of them on the morning of October 7, when a total of some 1,200 people were killed and 253 were taken hostage into Gaza by thousands of invading terrorists, amid acts of horrific brutality directed mostly against civilians.
It is believed that 132 of those hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a week-long truce in late November. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military.
The IDF has now confirmed the deaths of 29 of those still held by Hamas, citing intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces’ statement Wednesday on the deaths of the three soldiers in battle brought the military death toll from the months-long ground offensive to 223.
The slain troops were named as:
- Maj. (res.) Netzer Simchi, 30, from the northern Israeli community of Masad, of the 14th Armored Brigade’s 87th Battalion.
- Cpt. (res.) Gavriel Shani, 28, from the West Bank settlement of Eli, of the 646th Brigade’s 6646th Battalion.
- Warrant Officer (res.) Yuval Nir, 43, from the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion, of the 646th Brigade’s 6646th Battalion.
Shani and Nir were killed while fighting in south Gaza. Another two soldiers were seriously wounded in the same battle, the IDF said.
Simchi was killed fighting in northern Gaza, the military said.
The IDF also said Wednesday morning that it was continuing to operate in the mostly captured central and northern Gaza areas, where the 162nd Division had battled many Hamas gunmen over the previous 24 hours.
The division’s 401st Armored Brigade killed more than 15 Hamas operatives in northern Gaza in the last day, according to the IDF.
In one raid, the IDF said, troops arrested 10 Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives who were holed up in a school and located five rockets in the area prepared for launch.
Reservists of the 5th Brigade operating on the outskirts of the Shati camp, with air support, killed several more gunmen and located weapons used by Hamas, the IDF said.
In central Gaza, the Nahal Brigade killed more than 10 gunmen within an hour, and later killed several more in the same area, the army said.
Meanwhile, in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis — where most of the remaining hostages and the top Hamas leadership are believed to be — the IDF was continuing a push against Hamas in the western part of the city.
In one incident in western Khan Younis, the Paratroopers Brigade spotted a Hamas gunman joining a cell before directing an airstrike against them, the IDF said.
In another incident, the Air Force struck a building the military said had been used by another Hamas cell planning to ambush troops.
More than 2,000 Hamas operatives have been killed above and below ground in Khan Younis since troops began operating there last month, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a briefing on Monday evening, describing the city as the “Hamas capital of the south.”
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other terror commanders are hiding underground, according to Israeli officials who said that the Gaza terror chief is believed to be in a command center in a tunnel under Khan Younis, along with some of the hostages.
The IDF said Tuesday that it has been flooding some tunnels in the Gaza Strip with seawater, confirming what had been an open secret for several weeks.
Earlier this month, senior Israeli defense officials estimated to The New York Times that Hamas’s tunnel network runs 350-400 miles long, much more than previously believed. The tunnels are believed to be accessed by some 5,700 shafts.