Reservist killed as troops push through Khan Younis complex amid fading truce hopes

Michael Gal, 29, slain in Gaza as military continues to search through Hamad Town apartments; war cabinet meets as Ramadan set to start with hostage talks deadlocked

Troops operate in Khan Younis's Hamad Town residential complex in Gaza in a photo cleared for publication on March 10, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
Troops operate in Khan Younis's Hamad Town residential complex in Gaza in a photo cleared for publication on March 10, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces announced on Sunday the death of a soldier killed battling Hamas in Gaza, as fighting showed no signs of waning amid deadlocked truce talks on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while several countries continue efforts to send more aid to the besieged Strip amid widespread hunger.

Sgt. First Class (res.) Michael Gal, 29, of the Bislamach Brigade’s 450th Battalion, from Jerusalem, was killed fighting in southern Gaza on Sunday, the IDF said, bringing the toll of slain troops in the ground offensive against Hamas to 249.

Gal was slated to be buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Sunday evening, a few hours after the funeral at the same site of Maj. (res.) Amishar Ben David, 43, who was killed on Friday while fighting in the Strip.

Among those at Ben David’s funeral was his cousin, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

“You grew up and you sang the song of your life, a song of kindness and generosity,” Ben David’s father, Haim, said at his funeral on Sunday, making a reference to his name, which is Hebrew for “my nation sings.”

Now, his father said, “You are a soldier up above, and we are here down below trying to be with [your wife] Shlomit, the brave warrior, and your children.”

Sgt. First Class (res.) Michael Gal (Israel Defense Forces)

His widow, Shlomit, said at his funeral that he was “always striding ahead, always taking charge, always giving. A man of generosity with no facade… the pain is horrible and scary. The longing hurts. My heart is broken. I’ve been missing you already for five months,” she said, referencing how long he was serving in the reserves.

The military said Sunday morning that the Hamas operative who was responsible for killing Ben David was killed in an airstrike. The IDF released footage of the strike, which it said was directed by troops of the Egoz commando unit.

The strike came as the IDF’s Commando Brigade continued to focus on the Hamad Town residential complex in Khan Younis, where troops have been fighting since March 3.


The IDF said Sunday morning that its troops were engaged in “intense fighting” against Hamas gunmen in the complex of modern apartment buildings. The project was largely funded by Qatar and opened in 2016, with many apartments going to those whose homes were destroyed in previous wars between Israel and Hamas.

The IDF said the Maglan commando unit raided several apartments used by Hamas, and captured seized weapons. At one of the apartments, two Hamas operatives surrendered to the troops, the IDF said.

Later Sunday, the IDF said that an attack helicopter struck a Hamas site in the complex that was used by terrorists who participated in the October 7 onslaught, killing four operatives.

Residents of the Qatari-funded Hamad Town residential complex in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip carry some of their belongings as they flee their homes after an Israeli strike, on December 2, 2023 (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The IDF said troops of the Givati Brigade also captured a cache of weapons at a Hamas hideout apartment in the area. The soldiers seized mortars, explosive devices, assault rifles and ammunition, the military said.

Givati troops are operating in the eastern part of Hamad, where the IDF said Hamas uses the high-rise towers for terror activity.

Also in Khan Younis, the IDF said the Bislamach Brigade killed 17 gunmen, and the 7th Armored Brigade killed several more operatives, including by calling in airstrikes.

Meanwhile, in central Gaza, the Nahal Brigade killed 13 gunmen over the past day, including with sniper fire and by calling in airstrikes and tank shelling, the IDF said.

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip in a photo cleared for publication on March 9, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Airstrikes were also carried out against a site from which rockets were fired at troops inside Gaza, as well as Hamas infrastructure in Jabaliya and Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Strip, the IDF added.

Truce hopes dissipate as Ramadan begins

As the fighting continued to rage, Israel’s war cabinet was meeting Sunday night to discuss how to deal with temporary truce talks that appear to be stuck, Channel 12 news reported, a day after the Mossad intelligence service said that efforts to secure a deal were ongoing, but accused Hamas of refusing to negotiate in good faith.

“At this stage, Hamas is fortifying its position as if it is not interested in a deal, and it strives to ignite the region during Ramadan at the expense of the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip,” the Mossad said in a rare message Saturday night.

Hamas has accused Israel of refusing to budge in its demands and not actually being interested in a deal.

Citing two Egyptian security sources, Reuters reported Sunday evening that Egypt has been in contact with senior Hamas and Israeli figures as well as other mediators in an effort to restart negotiations, which ended in Cairo last week without a breakthrough.

Mediators have been scrambling to get a deal for a truce and to release hostages in place by the start of Ramadan, which begins Monday morning. War cabinet minister Benny Gantz has threatened that Israel would expand fighting into the southern city of Rafah, where over a million displaced Gazans are sheltering, if no deal was reached by the Ramadan deadline.

Palestinians walk past stalls set up in a street in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 10, 2024, as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

War erupted when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into Israel by air, land and sea, killing close to 1,200 people and kidnapping another 253 to Gaza, where more than 100 are still held hostage.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel responded with a wide-scale ground and air campaign that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said has now killed more than 31,000 people. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 13,000 terror operatives in Gaza since the war started, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Amid sky-high concerns over a lack of food and other supplies amid the fighting in Gaza, the US and Jordan carried out a new airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza on Sunday, parachuting in more than 11,500 meals, the US military said.

In this picture taken from Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip shows humanitarian aid being airdropped over the Palestinian territory on March 10, 2024. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

With the UN repeatedly warning of famine, American, Jordanian and other planes have been airdropping food aid into the Strip in recent days, but the United Nations’ aid coordinator for the area has said more supply by land is the best way to get assistance to territory’s 2.4 million people. Five people in Gaza were reportedly killed on Friday in a malfunctioned aid airdrop incident.

Israel says it does not restrict humanitarian or medical aid and has blamed the lack of deliveries on the capacity of aid agencies, repeatedly saying that it is approving more aid trucks for crossing than the agencies are able to deliver. It also accuses Hamas of commandeering some aid deliveries.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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