The Israel Defense Forces cleared for publication on Tuesday evening that another soldier was killed Tuesday morning and four others were lightly injured in an IDF patrol in northern Gaza. The fallen soldier was identified as Staff Sergeant Alexander Mashvitzky, 21, of Beersheba.
The soldier's family was notified of his death. This was the fifth soldier killed in the past 24 hours and the sixth dead since the start of the ground operation in Gaza.
The incident took place shortly after 10 am. A combined force of Golani and Combat Engineering fighters was patrolling the northern part of Gaza City when a terrorist cell hiding nearby opened fire at them. The force fired back and hit some of the gunmen.
One of the fighters was killed in the incident and four others were injured. The dead soldier was a combatant in an elite unit. His injured comrades were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
"He was a man of stature, a real friend. He loved the country. I remember his laughter and still can't believe he's been killed. This is a great loss to this country and to us. We miss him and we're slightly in shock," said Diana Karkoz, Staff Sergeant Mashvitzky's friend.
Relatives and friends flocked to Alexander's home in Beersheba to comfort his family. His friends said he loved the army.
"If I say he was the salt of the earth I would be hurting him," said Gal Sasportas. "He was an outstanding student and decided to be the highest combatant."
"He viewed everything with humor," said another friend. "He was extremely motivated about the army and was not afraid."
The Mashvitzky family immigrated to Israel from the USSR IN 1991. Alexander's mother, Ludmila, is a high school teacher, and his father is a professor at Ben-Gurion University. The soldier was also survived by his two siblings – a 22-year-old brother and a 10-year-old sister.
Three soldiers – Major Dagan Vertman, Captain Nitai Netanel and Corporal Yousef Maudi – were killed
Monday evening and 24 other fighters were injured near Jabalya refugee camp, as a tank shell hit a building housing dozens of fighters.
Captain Jonathan Netanel, 27, was killed
in another incident in northern Gaza early Tuesday. An investigation into the incident revealed that one of the walls in the building he was in collapsed, apparently after being hit by a tank shell.
Golani Staff-Sergeant Dvir Emanuelof,
22, was the first fatality of Operation Cast Lead's ground incursion. He was killed early Sunday, several hours after the operation began. Emanuelof was killed as a mortar shell landed near a Golani force in Jabalya.
Ilana Curiel contributed to this report