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Nine IDF soldiers killed on Jan. 8 in Gaza

JERUSALEM — Nine Israeli soldiers were killed, including six in one incident, during fighting in Gaza on Jan. 8 as Israel announced a new phase that officials said would be more targeted.

Sgt. First Class (res.) David Schwartz

One of the fallen soldiers was Sgt. First Class (res.) David Schwartz, nephew-in-law of Rabbi Marc and Sarah Gitler of Denver.

The 26-year-old was from West Bank community of Elazar and part of the 8219th Battalion, Combat Engineering Corps.

He was killed in southern Gaza.

The announcement came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel for the fourth time since Oct. 7, when Hamas initiated the war by invading Israel.

Blinken’s aims include pressing Israel to limit additional civilian casualties in Gaza and to dial down tensions on the northern border, where Hezbollah has been firing volley at Israel since Oct. 7. Israel has responded.

Blinken and Israel both say they want to avoid a wider war with Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the situation is untenable for Israel the rocket fire from Hezbollah has displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens from northern Israel.

A Hezbollah drone reportedly reached an IDF base in Safed on Jan. 9, while Israel reportedly killed three alleged Hezbollah terrorists inside Lebanon.

There were also casualties reported after a strike at the funeral of a slain Hezbollah commander, whom an Israeli minister said on Monday that Israel had killed.

Another senior Hezbollah commander was killed on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Monday, Jan. 8, marked one of the deadliest days for Israeli troops since the ground invasion of Gaza began in October.

Israeli explosives meant to demolish a Hamas underground installation detonated unintentionally, and the explosion killed six members of an elite reserves brigade.

The Israeli military is investigating the incident.

Among the dead were two study partners from a West Bank yeshiva whose funerals were scheduled for the same time on Jan. 9 and an American-born soldier who moved to Israel with his family.

Among the additional soldiers seriously wounded was Idan Amedi, a popular singer and actor whose credits include the hit TV show “Fauda.”

Amedi was recovering from his injuries, according to a tweet from Avi Issacharoff, the creator of the TV series about Israeli soldiers battling Palestinian terrorists.

The latest casualties bring the military death toll in Gaza to 185, in addition to the hundreds of soldiers killed during Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7, when about 1,200 Israelis were killed.

More than 130 Israelis are estimated to remain hostage in Gaza, with Israeli officials signaling that some are held close to Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ chief in the territory.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, 23,000 people have been killed in the territory during the war. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Nor does it identify women and children who are armed combatants.

Most of Gaza’s two million residents are displaced, with food scarce and disease spreading, even as the ultimate destination of humanitarian aid is unknown.

The situation has led the Biden administration, which has staunchly defended Israel’s right to defend itself, to press for changes in the war.

After President Joe Biden was heckled by an antiwar protester during an appearance in South Carolina on Jan. 8, he emphasized that he was pressing Israel to scale back its offensive.

“I understand their passion, and I’ve been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza,” Biden said.

Also on Jan. 8, Americans for Peace Now called for a ceasefire.

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