• Israel Defence Force (IDF) laments killing of 10 soldiers, including two senior officers, in Gaza’s deadly ambush

Ten Israel Defense Forces soldiers, including two senior commanders and several officers, were killed in heavy fighting in Gaza, the army said Wednesday, bringing the death toll in the ground offensive to 115.

Nine of the soldiers were killed in a battle in the heart of Shejaiya, one of the deadliest single encounters since troops pushed into the Strip.

The IDF named those killed in the battle in Shejaiya as Col. Itzhak Ben Basat, 44, head of the Golani Brigade’s commander’s team, from Sde Ya’akov; Lt. Col. Tomer Grinberg, 35, the commander of the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion, from Almog; Maj. Roei Meldasi, 23, a company commander in the 13th Battalion, from Afula; Maj. Moshe Avram Bar On, 23, a company commander in the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion, from Ra’anana; Cpt. Liel Hayo, 22, a platoon commander in the 51st Battalion, from Shoham; Sgt. Achia Daskal, 19, a soldier in the 51st Battalion, from Haifa; Sgt. Eran Aloni, 19, of the 51st Battalion, from Ofakim. Maj. Ben Shelly, 26, a squad commander in the Israeli Air Force’s Unit 669, from Kidron; and Sgt. First Class Rom Hecht, 20, of Unit 669, from Givatayim.

Ben Basat is the most senior IDF officer to have been killed in the ground offensive against Hamas.

Staff Sgt. Oriya Yaakov, 19, of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 614th Battalion, from Ashkelon, was killed in a separate incident in northern Gaza. The army said another three soldiers were seriously wounded.

The Times of Israel was told that according to an initial investigation, on Tuesday evening infantry soldiers from the Golani Brigade, working together with armor and engineering forces, were carrying out search operations in the kasbah, or the heart of Shejaiya, long seen as one of the most heavily fortified Hamas strongholds in northern Gaza.

This handout photo distributed by the Israel Defense Forces on December 13, 2023, shows troops operating in the Gaza Strip amid the war against Hamas. (Israel Defense Forces)
The initial force of four soldiers entered a cluster of three buildings — believed to have been abandoned — surrounding a courtyard, to carry out searches and found the entrance of a tunnel. As the troops entered one of the buildings, Hamas terrorists ambushed them, hurling grenades, detonating an explosive device, and opening fire on them.

All four soldiers were hit by the explosive inside the building, as gunfire continued from outside the structure.

At this stage, a second group of troops outside tried to reach them, but contact with the officer of the force was lost. Local commanders then initiated emergency procedures amid fears the soldiers could have been captured.

Several senior Golani officers immediately led forces to the area, including Ben Bassat, who led the rescue operation, Grinberg, of the 13th Battalion, and two other battalion commanders, who set up a perimeter to give the rescue force cover.

Grinberg led a flanking movement from the north, while the commander of the Golani’s reconnaissance battalion made a similar move from the south, and the commander of the 188th Armored Brigade’s 53rd Battalion did so from another angle.

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