Two IDF tank officers killed overnight

Two IDF tank officers killed overnight

Deaths of Captain Dmtri Levitas, 26, and First Lieutenant Natan Cohen, 23, raise IDF toll in Gaza to 29

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Fallen IDF officer Capt. Dmitri Levitas, 26, of Jerusalem. (IDF Spokesperson)
Fallen IDF officer Capt. Dmitri Levitas, 26, of Jerusalem. (IDF Spokesperson)

Two IDF officers were killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday, bringing the total number of soldiers killed to 29.

Captain Dmitri Levitas, 26, who commanded a tank company, was shot dead by a sniper.

First Lieutenant Natan Cohen, a 23-year-old platoon commander in the Armored Corps, was killed by “terrorist fire,” according to the IDF.

Levitas will buried at 3 p.m. in Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery. Cohen will be laid to rest at 6 p.m. in Modiin

Levitas arrived as a new immigrant to Israel from Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, when he was one year of age, Ynet reported. His mother lives in Jerusalem and his father in the north of the country. More recently, Levitas lived in agricultural community of Geshur on the Golan Heights.

A friend of Levitas said that the soldier had recently finished a company commander course and also played as a goalkeeper in a local soccer league.

Cohen, from the town of Modiin, was planning on marrying his girlfriend soon, according to a friend who spoke to Israeli news site Walla.

“Natan was very social, the most social person I’ve ever seen,” a friend told the news site. “He got along with everyone, offered everything without arguing with anyone.”

Another soldier, Avitar Torjeman, was killed in fighting earlier Tuesday.

The IDF death toll is now 29, with one more soldier missing and presumed killed. In the past 24 hours three soldiers were seriously injured, nine suffered moderate wounds, and eight were lightly injured.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in an effort to stem rocket attacks by Palestinians in Gaza on Israeli towns and cities. After days of airstrikes a ground offensive began last week with thousands of troops entering the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Palestinian sources say over 600 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the operation just over two weeks ago. Gazan terrorists have fired over 2,000 rockets at Israel since the operation began with warheads striking the south, Tel Aviv, and central regions of the country.

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