update deskIsrael at War

Bedouin IDF tracker confirmed killed on Oct. 7, body taken to Gaza

Atrash, 39, is survived by 13 children • Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh's sister reportedly killed in Israeli strike in Gaza.

Slain Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Maj. Mhamad El Atrash. Credit: Hostages and Missing Families Forum.
Slain Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Maj. Mhamad El Atrash. Credit: Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Maj. Mhamad el-Atrash was murdered by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and his body is being held in Gaza, the military announced on Monday night.

Atrash, 39, a resident of the Bedouin village of Sawa in the northern Negev, served as a tracker in the Northern Brigade of the Gaza Division, though the IDF did not disclose his army service until Monday evening.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 News, he is survived by 13 children. Atrash’s fate remained unclear in the first months after the Oct. 7 attacks, and his family was reportedly only informed in early December that he had been taken hostage to Gaza.

Atrash’s uncle had told Ynet, “We hope that we will receive good news that will bring joy back to all of us. Every day, the children ask when their father is coming back, and we have no way of providing answers.”

Brother Salem Atrash said in March, “Mhamad has 13 children and 22 siblings who have been waiting for him since that ‘Black Shabbat’ on Oct. 7. … Pressure should be applied to release everyone, but first and foremost the girls—what is happening to them there is shocking.”

Atrash’s body was taken from the border area after a battle with terrorists, the IDF said on Monday, adding that his death was determined after “examining all the findings and based on reliable information.”

Israel’s Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents relatives of those taken captive by Hamas, issued a statement saying it “bows its head in sorrow and with a heavy heart” following the news.

The forum “will continue to support and stand by the family during this difficult time and until his remains are returned to Israel,” it said.

More than 250 people were abducted to Gaza during Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev, and thousands more were murdered and wounded, with numerous atrocities documented.

One-hundred and twenty hostages remain in the Strip, of whom 116 were abducted on Oct. 7 (the other four were captured earlier). The figure includes both living and deceased men, women and children.

Overnight Monday, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck two buildings in the northern Strip that were being used by Hamas terrorists, including several that invaded the Jewish state on Oct. 7 and took hostages.

Arab reports claimed that a sister of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was among those killed in a strike on a building on the northern Gaza coast.

The terrorists had entrenched themselves in school buildings in the Shati Camp and Daraj Tuffah area, the IDF said in a statement. The military added it took precautions to avoid harm to noncombatants.

Hamas terrorists “systematically violate international law, exploiting civilian infrastructure and the civilian population as human shields to carry out acts of terrorism against the State of Israel,” the army said.

Israeli ground forces entered Gaza on Oct. 27 following a weeks-long air campaign in response to the Oct. 7 attacks. Jerusalem’s stated goals for the war are to destroy Hamas as a military and governing force in Gaza, ensure that it can not threaten Israel again and return all hostages.

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