IDF Death Toll Rises to Six

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CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - The death toll of Israeli soldiers killed in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip rose to six Tuesday.

Tuesday evening, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released the name of sixth soldier killed during an ambush of an IDF patrol in northern Gaza Tuesday morning. Soldiers returned fire, hitting some of the gunmen.

Alexander Mashvitsky, 21, from Beersheba,  a member of an elite unit, was killed in northern Gaza City. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

In the first incident reported earlier, three Golani Brigade soldiers were killed and another 24 wounded, one critically and three seriously, in the infantry troops first fighting in densely populated urban areas.

According to early reports, soldiers from the Brigade's 13th Battalion ducked inside an abandoned building in Jabalya, after several hours of fighting, seeking cover from heavy mortar shell bombardment.

An IDF tank, which may have mistaken the soldiers for Hamas operatives, fired at the building, causing it to partially collapse.

The incident occurred around 6:00 p.m. Monday, and the IDF released the first report early Tuesday morning.

Golani Brigade commander Colonel Avi Peled, who was wounded in the incident, refused medical care so he could direct the rescue operation, which the IDF later said "personified the kind of behavior the IDF expects of its commanders in such times."

IDF artillery units provided cover for rescue helicopters, which dropped flares to aid in the evacuation.

The first name to be released was Cpl. Yousef Moadi, 19, from Haifa, who will be laid to rest at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday in the Druze village of Yircha.

Major Dagan Wartman, a 32-year-old medical doctor from Ma'aleh Mikhmash, and Staff Sgt. Nitai Stern, 21, from Jerusalem, will both be buried in Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl military cemetery Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 and 3:30, respectively.

In the second incident to be reported, Captain Yonatan Netanel, 27, from Kedumim, deputy company commander of the 202 Paratroopers Brigade, was killed when a wall collapsed in a building he was in, after being hit by a shell.

Funeral arrangements for Netanel have yet to be announced.

The IDF is investigating the incidents, which both testify of the dangers of ground operations.

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