newsIsrael at War

Two IDF soldiers slain in Gaza City battle

Staff Sgt. Yair Avitan, 20, and Sgt. First Class (res.) Yakir Shmuel Tatelbaum, 21, died as troops were pushing back into Shejaiya.

Sgt. First Class (res.) Yakir Shmuel Tatelbaum (left) and Staff Sgt. Yair Avitan. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
Sgt. First Class (res.) Yakir Shmuel Tatelbaum (left) and Staff Sgt. Yair Avitan. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Two soldiers were killed in action in separate incidents in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, the IDF announced on Saturday evening.

They were named as Staff Sgt. Yair Avitan, 20, of the Paratroopers Brigade’s 890th Battalion, from Ra’anana, and Sgt. First Class (res.) Yakir Shmuel Tatelbaum, 21, of the 7th Armored Brigade’s 77th Battalion, from Ma’ale Adumim.

Avitan leaves behind his parents and three younger siblings. He grew up and went to school in Ra’anana, graduating from the Amit Kfar Batya scientific-technological high school. He was buried at the Ra’anana Military Cemetery.

Shirit Avitan Cohen, Israel Hayom political commentator, eulogized Avitan, “My sweet nephew fell in Gaza on Friday. Our Yair, you didn’t even need to be in Gaza, but you insisted, so strongly insisted, on participating in this just war for our people. How worried we were every time you were there. Your grandparents lit trays of candles for you. Prayers to all the righteous just for you to return safely, and this time you didn’t come back. There are no words that can console us for your absence.”

Ra’anana Mayor Chaim Broyde said, “Our hearts break upon learning of the fall in battle of Staff Sgt. Yair Avitan, a son of our city, salt of the earth, who risked his life in defense of the country’s security. The Ra’anana community shares the pain of the Avitan family, embraces them, and surrounds them in their difficult hour.”

Tatelbaum was a student of Warrant Officer (res.) Elon Weiss, 49, who was killed in action in Gaza two weeks earlier.

At the time, Tatelbaum wrote, “The heart is broken. Elon Weiss, teacher Elon. A great educator I had the privilege to know—so pleasant and right for his students and those around him. How I loved to joke with you at school, on trips, after classes, trying to annoy you as much as possible. A teacher loved by everyone without exception.”

On Friday, the IDF announced the death of Sgt. Eyal Shynes, 19, from Kibbutz Afik in the Golan Heights. The soldier of the 931st Battalion’s Nahal Infantry Brigade was killed in combat in southern Gaza.

His mother, Merav Shynes, told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday that he was shot while on the phone with his family. “He called, and it was such a good conversation, and then suddenly I heard him being shot, and that’s how the conversation ended,” the bereaved mother recalled.

The death toll among IDF troops since the start of the Gaza ground operation on Oct. 27 now stands at 316, and at 670 on all fronts since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, according to IDF data.

Additionally, Ch. Insp. Arnon Zamora, a member of the Israel Border Police Yamam National Counter-Terrorism Unit, was mortally wounded in Gaza earlier this month during a mission to rescue four hostages, and civilian defense contractor Liron Yitzhak was mortally wounded in the Strip in May.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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